StarOffice is a free productivity application suite from Sun Microsystems that includes a word processor (Writer), spreadsheet (Calc), database (Base), presentation maker (Impress), illustrator (Draw), schedule managment (Schedule), e-mail (Mail) and newsgroup (Discussion) component. StarOffice is compatible with Microsoft Office components (for example, you can open and save in Microsoft's Word, Excel, and PowerPoint file formats) and is available in 11 languages.

Fans of StarOffice appreciate its cross-platform capabilities and feel it offers low-budget users a good alternative to Microsoft's Office. Critics acknowledge that StarOffice is intuitive to use, but find the desktop interface floating palettes awkward. A common complaint about StarOffice is that you must open the entire suite of applications even if you only want to work with an individual component.

Sun Microsystems released an open-source version of StarOffice under the GNU general public license in October of 2000. Sun appointed to manage the open-source version, using a development model similar to that of Netscape's Mozilla. Users of the open-source version of StarOffice must not only agree to the GNU general public license terms, they must also agree to Sun Industry Standard Source License (SISSL) which includes control over programming interfaces and compatibility tests. Sun plans to replace their proprietary default file format with Extensible Markup Language (XML), and is promoting the development of a Web-based version of StarOffice.

StarOffice is compatible with Sun Solaris SPARC, Sun Solaris Intel, Windows 95/98/NT, Linux, and OS/2. At present, there is no Mac version.

This was last updated in September 2005

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