RealTime IT News

Google Takes StarOffice For Its Pack

Google is adding Sun Microsystems' StarOffice suite to Google Pack, its freely downloadable collection of productivity software. The software is available immediately.

Google Pack is quite a collection that includes Google Earth, Norton Security Scan, Google Desktop, Firefox with Google Toolbar, Adobe Reader, Skype, RealPlayer and other Google  products.

StarOffice is Sun's  commercial version of OpenOffice, the open source office suite that is available from Sun for $69. The $69 fee gets you product and technical support from Sun along with indemnification from any legal action.

"That's really what you're paying for," Mark Herring, senior director of marketing for Sun, told Internetnews.com. "If you couldn't care less about support, then Google has a distribution for you."

He added StarOffice also has a few extra features OpenOffice does not have, like an extra spell checker, Web search and some conversion filters. Both support Open Document Format (ODF) and can read Microsoft Office documents.

Rob Helm, director of research for Directions on Microsoft, thinks this is more of an effort to get the low-hanging fruit than a real effort to take a chunk out of Microsoft's  bread-and-butter Office business.

"Google has been competing with Microsoft at the low end of Office for some time, so this is a further expansion of Google's strategy," he told internetnews.com. He said StarOffice has some shortcomings and is not a worthy replacement for Office in a business/enterprise market, but it's perfect for users with fewer demands.

"I'd say [StarOffice] is not so much a competitor to Office today as Works, the free software a lot of people get with their PCs," said Helm. "Of course, they would love to sneak into the enterprise market, but considering the functionality StarOffice is offering, I don't think most enterprises would look at it seriously."

Mostly, he sees StarOffice as a way for Google to get into the desktop, and perhaps extend its Web-based application offerings, Docs and Spreadsheets, or perhaps create some connection between StarOffice and the online applications.