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StarOffice scores Canadian win

Sun Microsystems recruits one of its biggest customers yet for its StarOffice software, signing a contract with the Ontario Ministry of Education covering 2.5 million students.

Sun Microsystems has recruited one of its biggest customers yet for its StarOffice software, signing a contract with the Ontario Ministry of Education covering 2.5 million students.

The deal, signed May 27 but not announced in the United States until Monday, covers 72 public and parochial school boards in Ontario. All will be licensed to use StarOffice 7, the current version of the package, on all school-owned PCs.

Sun representatives did not disclose financial details, but Ontario school officials have said the cost is "minimal." Under its education and research program, Sun provides copies of StarOffice to qualified academic institutions for the cost of the distribution media.

StarOffice has become one of the leading competitors to Microsoft's dominant Office in the market for productivity software, a category that typically includes word processor and spreadsheet programs.

Sun has scored a number of overseas wins for StarOffice and has made the package an integral part of its Java Desktop System to displace Microsoft on desktop PCs. But StarOffice faces increasing competition from other would-be Microsoft-killers, including OpenOffice, a free open-source package based on an early version of StarOffice.