InternetNews.com has learned that Sun is set to release StarOffice 9 on November 17th. StarOffice is Sun’s office suite offering currently based on the OpenOffice.org code base. OpenOffice.org itself was originally based on StarOffice which Sun acquired back in 1999.
OpenOffice.org is free (as in beer and as in Freedom) and is also offered as a supported commercial offering by Linux vendors including Red Hat, Novell and Ubuntu. As far as I know StarOffice is not free in the same sense. The current StarOffice 8 is being sold by Sun for $69.95 and the licensing terms are not quite open.
StarOffice9 is expected to include Mac compatability, new new add-on support, Weblog Publisher and Database Report Builder functions. If some of that sounds familiar it should – it’s a similiar feature set to the one in the recently released OpenOffice 3 which came out last month.
There is of course nothing wrong with having an open source verison and then a commercial version of the same software. The common argument is that the commercial versions of open source are more enterprise-ready and includes additional stability testing. I’m not so sure that’s still the case with StarOffice, especially in light of how far OpenOffice.org has progressed. If you look at Sun’s own current list of the differences between OpenOffice.org and StarOffice the list isn’t much.
Is there still a need for a StarOffice? I suppose Sun still has legacy customers and there is still brand equity in the name. Beyond that I suspect that the future is all about OpenOffice.org.