Sun Microsystems has release its latest version of StarOffice, a suite that promises to re-open the debate about the openness of Microsoft's rival Office suite.
Sun said StarOffice 8.0 is the first commercial office suite to use the Open Document Format, the standard for file sharing that has been ratified by the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS).
Support for Open Document Format would help StarOffice in at least one US state, Massachusetts, which recently instructed its agencies to install products that support Open Document Format and to phase out software that doesn't support the format. That's a potential problem for Microsoft, who does not currently support Open Document Format or plan to suport the format in the up-coming Office 12.
Adding to StarOffice advantage, Sun has promised "excellent" compatibility" with Office. Sun said StarOffice 8.0 features improved import and export of Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files - a constant source of irritation for users of StarOffice - while StarOffice's features look more familiar to Office users.
To further seed the market, Sun is announcing distribution deals with distributor Encore and software publisher Avanquest. Encore will provide retail and wholesale distribution in the US and Canada and Avanquest countries Europe and Asia.®