Sony Leaves Microsoft for StarOffice

While Microsoft hashes out its problems with Sun Microsystems in court this week, customers are slowly showing which side of the fence they sit on.

The latest firm to dump the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant appears to be Sony . The Japanese-owned computer maker said its European Information Technology division has chosen to distribute StarOffice 6.0 on all of their European Vaio computers. The deal represents seven countries: Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom. A Sun spokesperson said similar deals are in the works to expand Sony’s affair with StarOffice to other countries.

Sun is also reportedly talking to major Internet service providers (ISPs) to include its StarOffice productivity suite of office software into the ISPs’ respective services.

To date, Sun has well over 20 large volume OEMs – both hardware and software – who have switched rather than fight,

As an office productivity suite, StarOffice is geared to lure Microsoft consumers away from the popular Office product. In a time when Microsoft has been hammered for its licensing fees, Sun seeks to sway consumers by selling its new office suite for $75.95 in the U.S. The basic version of Office retails for $479.

In a nutshell, StarOffice 6 allows the creation of documents, spreadsheets and presentations on the Linux, Solaris and Windows platforms. The suite uses an open Extensible Markup Language (XML) based file format as its default, enabling anyone the ability to use widely available tools to open, modify, and share StarOffice content — including some with Microsoft’s Office import and export filters.

Santa Clara, Calif.-based Sun has also donated millions of copies of StarOffice to educational entities and automatically includes it in its server software.

StarOffice 6 is available through Linux vendors, PC OEMs, software retailers, Sun’s sales force and the StarOffice NOW program. OEMs such as Hyundai, MandrakeSoft, SuSE Linux, Turbolinux, and Ximian all bundle the application in their products.

The first company to make a dent in the MS Office armor was Ottawa, Canada-based Corel, which scored a trifecta this year by putting its WordPerfect Productivity Pack in PCs made by Hewlett-Packard , Dell Computer and Gateway .

Microsoft still leads the market by a double-digit margin, though when it comes to desktop office software sales.

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