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Next StarOffice goes on sale

The newest version of Sun Microsystems' StarOffice desktop software suite, a competitor to Microsoft Office, is available at Lindows.com and Sun's online store.

The newest version of Sun Microsystems' StarOffice desktop software suite, a competitor to Microsoft Office, is now available online.

Sun started selling the software as a $79.95 download from its Web site Tuesday, but the boxed retail version of the product won't ship until the first week of November, a Sun representative said. And Lindows, a company that sells a version of the Linux operating system, also began selling the software as a $59.95 download, the company said Wednesday.

For business users, prices range from $60 per user for 25 users to $25 per user for 10,000 users, Sun said. Educational customers may use the software for free.

Like its predecessor, StarOffice 7 runs on three operating systems--Microsoft Windows, Linux and Sun's Solaris. Among features to version 7 are updated filters for importing and exporting files in Microsoft Office formats and the ability to export files in Macromedia Flash or Adobe Systems' Portable Document Format (PDF). In addition, users can create versions of documents that can be read and edited on Palm OS and Pocket PC handheld computers.

The package also supports fonts for Asian languages such as Japanese and Chinese.

The new version can be downloaded from Lindows.com for $59.95. The same package will be available later for $79.95, Lindows said.

Sun announced last month plans to launch a corporate version of StarOffice in 2004.

StarOffice dovetails with Sun's Mad Hatter initiative, now called the Java Desktop System, to sell a version of Linux for desktop computers. Both projects are aimed directly at perennial Sun foe Microsoft.

Lindows is another thorn in Microsoft's side. In addition to pushing a version of Linux for desktop computers, the company is involved in legal entanglements with Microsoft.

Sun's StarOffice and its open-source foundation, OpenOffice, have a 6 percent share in the small and midsize business market and even less among large businesses, acknowledged Joerg Heilig, director of software engineering for StarOffice products at Sun.

The new StarOffice's improved file compatibility will make it simpler to collaborate with Microsoft Office users, Lindows said. "With Sun Microsystems, we can continue to build on the market momentum for StarOffice 7, while reaching a broader base of customers for desktop Linux," Lindows Chief Executive Michael Robertson said in a statement.