Sun Microsystems is to charge for Linux and Windows versions of the StarOffice suite with the launch of the next version of the office productivity suite in May.
According to Hesse Online, only a Solaris version of StarOffice 6.0 will remain freely distributed after the upgrade, and Windows and Linux versions will attract a license fee.
The proposed license costs are unclear, and Sun wasn't prepared to talk to us about the issue ahead of the release, but are more or less certain to be much lower than Microsoft charges for Windows - Sun would be cutting its own throat otherwise.
The news isn't as bad as it may first seem. For one thing, Sun is promising better support will be available if it charges royalties and charging money might encourage corporates to take StarOffice more seriously.
Secondly, OpenOffice Community Edition - which is similar to StarOffice but shorn of useful extras such as a data base - will remain free from OpenOffice.org and third-party sites.
However, Sun risks putting the nose of Linux developers out of joint by charging for the Linux version.
Sun recently committed to developing its own Linux distribution, so it'll be interesting to watch whether Sun charge for StarOffice 6.0 on that platform... ®
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