Google Sneaks StarOffice 8 Into Google Pack

In line with its policy of introducing features to its various offerings and then letting people discover them on their own, Google has concluded an agreement with Sun Microsystems to include StarOffice 8 — Sun’s Productivity Suite — with the Google Pack offered by the search mavens as a “one stop solution” to basic computing needs.

Other programs in Google Pack include Google Toolbar, Spyware Doctor, Google Photos Screensaver, Skype, Norton Security Scan, Google Desktop, Google Talk, RealPlayer, Google Earth, Firefox with Google Toolbar, Picasa and Adobe Reader. The programs can be downloaded singly or as the full “pack,” and Google provides an updater to manage them. The updater is required to download from the Google site, but can be disabled or un-installed after downloading if desired. In the case of StarOffice there’s an integral updater accessible through the “Options” menu, so the Google Updater is superfluous.

StarOffice, based on the OpenOffice platform but containing code from Sun as well, is widely considered to be the leading MS Office competitor at the present time. Periodically Sun — which donated the original StarOffice code to the OpenOffice community — takes a “snapshot” of the OpenOffice.org code base, integrates proprietary and third-party code modules, and markets the package commercially at a nominal price. This is the first free offering of StarOffice 8 that I know of, although v. 5.2 has been available for free download since shortly after Sun acquired StarDivision.

According to WikiPedia, the company and the copyright and trademark of StarOffice were acquired by Sun Microsystems in 1999 for US$73.5 million. Sun was seeking to compete with Microsoft Office, and also wanted to save money on licenses for Microsoft Office and Windows:

The number one reason why Sun bought StarDivision in 1999 was because, at the time, Sun had something approaching forty-two thousand employees. Pretty much every one of them had to have both a Unix workstation and a Windows laptop. And it was cheaper to go buy a company that could make a Solaris and Linux desktop productivity suite than it was to buy forty-two thousand licenses from Microsoft. (Simon Phipps, Sun, LUGradio podcast)

Again according to WikiPedia, the “advantages” of SunOffice over OpenOffice (at least they’re differences, if not necessarily advantages) include:

  • Several font metric compatible Unicode TrueType fonts containing bitmap representations for better appearance at smaller font sizes
  • 12 Western fonts (including Andale Sans, Arial Narrow, Arial Black, Broadway, Garamond, Imprint MT Shadow, Kidprint, Palace Script, Sheffield) and 7 Asian language fonts (including support for the Hong Kong Supplementary character set)
  • Adabas D database
  • StarOffice-only templates and sample documents
  • A large clip art gallery
  • Sorting functionality for Asian versions
  • File filters for additional older wordprocessing formats (including EBCDIC)
  • A different spell checker (note that OpenOffice.org does include a spell checker as well) and thesaurus
  • StarOffice Configuration Manager
  • Macro Converter for converting Microsoft Office VBA-macros to StarBasic

Other differences include: StarOffice only supports 10 languages (compared to over 25 for OpenOffice.org), and StarOffice is only available for the Windows, Linux, and Solaris operating systems (while OpenOffice.org is available for 8 operating systems).

Given that StarOffice does offer advantages in terms of usability over OpenOffice, it could be worth considering if you want to replace Micro$oft Office or if you’re buying a new PC and don’t want to pay the exorbitant cost of installing it to begin with. Since MS Office 2007 is currently US $249.99 at TigerDirect (OEM version), an alternative suite that’s compatible with common office documents such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint and so forth, could be a useful option to consider.

And yes, I know there are those of you who will panic again about Google getting its hooks into you, but think about this. First of all, you don’t know how far Micro$oft’s into your business, because you can’t access its code to find out. At least Google tells you it’s collecting information. And second — when Google rules the world, you’ll be sorry for all those remarks. You have been warned

[tags]productivity, openoffice, staroffice, microsoft office, google pack[/tags]

  • Michael

    I wish they had a direct download. I have dialup, and the thought of several months of downloading is not good. :P
    I can go to a library and download other programs on a flash drive — too bad Star Office 8 won’t be on the list.

  • http://digital-dharma.net Bill

    In that case, ask a friend who has broadband to go to OpenOffice.org and download the installer for the latest version of OpenOffice (currently 2.2.something). Load it on the flash drive (it’s about 85 MB, as I recall), and take it home and install it. There’s really not much difference.

  • francis gee

    some how staroffice 8 got on to my pc and it is eating up a lot of space and even a computer espert i hired has no idea how it got on here AND NO IDEA AT ALL HOW TO DELETE.
    Don’t say go to delete and remove programs yadda yadda yadda doesn’tr remove it
    don’t say contact sun yadda yadda yadda they tell you nothing and they do not direct you to any help.
    Our next move is to contact the FTC and begin a long arduous battle which we are prepared to do and to contact every fornicating media outlet to bring our cause to remove to the forefront.
    Now if anyone knows how to remove this piece of elk crap let us know at filling [email protected]
    Thanks

  • Bill

    As it happens, I just uninstalled StarOffice 8 this week, before upgrading to SP 3. All I did was go to Start, Add or Remove Programs, and uninstalled. If that isn’t working for you, I suspect it is because you somehow interfered with the process and it did not complete.

    If you’re unable to accomplish it that way (i.e., if it is not in the index that windows opens) you could always look in C:\Program Files for the Sun folder, open the StarOffice folder and look for the uninstaller. Be aware that it took nearly 90 seconds to uninstall on my 3.2 GHz dual-core machine. If yours is much slower, go have a cup of coffee.

    If the above doesn’t work, you can always delete the StarOffice 8 folder completely, then delete all the shortcuts out of their various locations. (I’d do that only as a last resort, though, as it could mess with your file associations.)

    If that still doesn’t do it, hire a witch doctor. Sounds like it would be an improvement over the previous “expert.”

    Or, just enjoy your paranoia.

    Bill