|By Mark R. Hinkle||
|January 20, 2006 10:30 AM EST||
On September 27, Sun released StarOffice 8, their cross-platform office suite, which they believe to be the best alternative to the business standard, Microsoft Office. This new product release along with the release of OpenOffice.org 2.0, on October 20, was a watershed event for open source office suites. With a host of new features and increased functionality, both suites have never before offered such a robust and feasible alternative to the undisputed productivity suite leader, Microsoft Office. Sun Microsystems has been developing the product since their acquisition of Star Division, the previous maker of StarOffice, in August of 1999. For the first time in its history, StarOffice (and OpenOffice.org) has the best chance to convert millions of Microsoft Office users as a result of the latest crop of improvements.
StarOffice shares much of its code with the community office suite, OpenOffice.org, but there are a number of value-added features included with StarOffice including a Microsoft Office macro converter, administrative tools, clipart, and fonts, not to mention installation support. Users of StarOffice 7 will find a new presentation interface, a mail-merge wizard, and database wizards. Sun's contention is that this release eases the learning curve and makes it easier for end users to transition from Microsoft Office, complemented by better document compatibility for Microsoft Office file formats. StarOffice supports Windows, Linux, and Sun Solaris so users can share documents easily despite their desktop OS. They can also become familiar with StarOffice on Windows before moving to Linux on the desktop. Even though it doesn't enjoy the same market share as Microsoft Office, Sun cites a growing installed base that includes agreements with 169,000 schools covering 70 million K-12 students and 214 million students in universities throughout the world. In addition to their download and direct sales, StarOffice will also shift to a new business model, publishing to e-tail and retail outlets in North America, select European countries, and Japan. (The new model is active no in Roth merica, Europe and Japan.)
The New Cast of Characters
The new StarOffice 8 includes some updates to existing programs like Writer and Calc but also boasts the overhaul of StarOffice 8 Base (Base has existed in previous versions of StarOffice so it's not being added in v.8). In addition to the core applications, there has been much work done to add supporting tools such as StarOffice Enterprise Tools and the Macro Migration Wizard that can automatically import Microsoft Office macros (one of the most inhibiting factors for alternative office suite adoption). While the wizard is an improvement, it's not a perfect solution with test success rates hovering around 60%. There is also a Professional Analysis Wizard that can help mitigate the risk of an organization's movements from one suite to another. Besides usability Sun boasts the improvement of security features like Digital Signatures and LDAP authentication over SSL to allow safer access of documents.
The core programs that make up StarOffice are just what you expect for word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, and database.
Writer is the word processing application included with StarOffice 8 and it includes the ability to create documents, define styles, and author complex documents. The new mail merge wizard can create both hard copies of letters as well as e-mail merge. Writer also includes tools to make documents portable across platforms and users. The standard formats for all Writer documents is the OASIS OpenDocument format but Writer can also open and edit Microsoft Word documents, import WordPerfect documents, and, to be sure that a document is viewable in the way it was originally intended, export it to Portable Document Format (PDF) (see Figure 1).
StarOffice Calc is the spreadsheet component of StarOffice 8 and has all the tools you need to calculate and analyze data. Calc also includes the DataPilot feature that in Microsoft Excel you might know as PivotTables. Like the word processing program, you can import other file formats including Lotus 1-2-3 and Excel. Past versions of Calc had a limit on the number of rows per sheet but in version 8 it has been increased to match Microsoft Excel's 65,356 rows.
Impress is the presentation authoring tool and viewer that most closely resembles Microsoft PowerPoint or Lotus Freelance. Impress can also export files into a flash SWF for embedding and automating them into Web pages. On top of that there are a number of tools to author polished presentations including the StarOffice FontWork (which is fully MS WordArt compatible). FontWork can be used to author both 2D and 3D fonts with artistic flourishes like shading and color fill options.
One of the biggest changes in the new StarOffice suite is the significant enhancement of the database application front end simply known as Base. Base allows you to access 11 different database formats including MySQL, ODBC, Oracle JDBC, spreadsheets, dBase, and common address contact managers (see Figure 2).
If you want a highly functional office suite that has good breadth of features that interoperates well with Microsoft documents, StarOffice 8 fits the bill (as does OpenOffice.org). These applications are very stable and have a wide variety of features to easily create robust documents.
Why StarOffice 8 Might Be Your Next Office Suite
StarOffice product manager, Iyer Venkatesan, says that the costs of and licensing terms for most organizations' existing office suites are out of control. He also claims that most users who are familiar with Microsoft Office will find StarOffice just as intuitive for them. Venkatesan states that, "Our position is that we are the clear alternative to Microsoft Office." One of the main reasons that Sun and others cite this new breed of open source software as a potential Microsoft office killer is cost of acquisition. Sun cites an 80% lower purchase price with less restrictive licensing terms. Besides costs and licensing, they also have the advantage of the OASIS (www.oasis-open.org) approved OpenDocument XML file format. OpenDoucment is a new standard for StarOffice documents but it's still backward-compatible with previous versions of StarOffice while previous versions of StarOffice can read and write StarOffice files by virtue of a patch. The open format is important because it makes it easier to exchange data from documents with other systems and software products rather than having to reverse-engineer the compatibility as other office suites have had to do with Microsoft Office. Besides their desire to expand their market, Sun claims tight desktop integration, ease of use, and low retraining costs for MS Office users.
When it comes to proclaiming what users might find more appealing in StarOffice compared with Microsoft Office, there is not a whole lot of difference in my opinion. The products are very similar and they serve the task of creating and editing documents. There are a few things that I find to be very handy when using StarOffice. The first benefit is the ability to create PDFs, which has been a longtime favored feature of OpenOffice.org and StarOffice. In addition, I have better luck using the formatting and styles in the open source software suites as opposed to Microsoft Office, where applying styles can be cumbersome and can exhibit unexpected behavior. For example, when using Microsoft Word I often find styles are automatically updated and applied in unexpected ways.
It's humorous to note that the measure of StarOffice and other office suites competing with Microsoft Office are often referred to as being good enough when their competition, the bombastic Microsoft Office, is possibly one of the most complained about but still widely used software packages. Time and time again when I am confronted with the question of whether an established Microsoft Office user will find StarOffice or its gratis cousin OpenOffice.org to be an adequate replacement, the question is almost always phrased the same way. That's why I feel without restriction that both alternatives are definitely good enough. The only apprehension I have is not with its worthiness as an office suite but with its interoperability with legacy documents. This may change as newer versions of Microsoft Office will be supporting XML document formats that might ease the exchange between the two office suites.
Perhaps the biggest attention getter when it comes to comparing StarOffice 8 with Microsoft Office is the price. Searching the Web I found prices for Microsoft Office 2003 Professional ranging around $499 and Microsoft Office 2003 Standard at around $369 from national retailers, while the downloadable version of StarOffice 8 was $69.95 directly from Sun. However, I don't look at price on its own; I look at value and I think that's what StarOffice really delivers: a very functional feature-packed productivity suite at a reasonable price. I personally have been using OpenOffice.org and StarOffice for many years and find that for most tasks they do the job just as well or better than Microsoft Office. If you are looking to break the expensive upgrade cycle for Microsoft Office without sacrificing functionality, StarOffice or OpenOffice.org is the best choice I can recommend, especially for the Linux user.
Computer and processor:
Personal computer with a Pentium compatible Processor (Pentium III or Athlon recommended)
128 MB of RAM (256 MB recommended)
380 MB available hard disk space
CD-ROM or DVD drive
800 x 600 with 256 colors
(higher resolution recommended)
Linux kernel version 2.4 or higher, glibc2 version 2.2.4 or higher
Gnome 2.6 or higher required for support of assistive technology tools (AT tools) via Java accessibility support. StarOffice cannot be installed on a (V)FAT partition, since FAT file systems do not support the creation of symbolic links
Internet functionality requires dial-up or broadband Internet access (provided separately); local or long-distance charges may apply
|Seymour 01/13/06 01:34:43 PM EST|
I own StarOffice 7 for Windows and was shocked that when StarOffice 8 came out that there were no upgrade editions at special prices. (To be fair, you can buy it at Amazon for about $49.99 and students, teachers, researchers, and faculty can download for free from Sun.) Not willing to double my investment, I went to OpenOffice.org 2.0 instead! Something to keep in mind before you buy!
I've been happy except for Impress' compatibility with PowerPoint and choppy slide transition animation.
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Klein, CEO and Co-founder of Rachio, will discuss next generation communities that are using IoT to create more sustainable, intelligent communities. One example is Sterling Ranch, a 10,000 home development that – with the help of Siemens – will integrate IoT technology into the community to provide residents with energy and water savings as well as intelligent security. Everything from stop lights to sprinkler systems to building infrastructures will run ef...
May. 5, 2016 02:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,281
Manufacturers are embracing the Industrial Internet the same way consumers are leveraging Fitbits – to improve overall health and wellness. Both can provide consistent measurement, visibility, and suggest performance improvements customized to help reach goals. Fitbit users can view real-time data and make adjustments to increase their activity. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mark Bernardo Professional Services Leader, Americas, at GE Digital, will discuss how leveraging the Industrial Interne...
May. 5, 2016 12:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,377
The increasing popularity of the Internet of Things necessitates that our physical and cognitive relationship with wearable technology will change rapidly in the near future. This advent means logging has become a thing of the past. Before, it was on us to track our own data, but now that data is automatically available. What does this mean for mHealth and the "connected" body? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Lisa Calkins, CEO and co-founder of Amadeus Consulting, will discuss the impact of wea...
May. 5, 2016 12:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,190
Whether your IoT service is connecting cars, homes, appliances, wearable, cameras or other devices, one question hangs in the balance – how do you actually make money from this service? The ability to turn your IoT service into profit requires the ability to create a monetization strategy that is flexible, scalable and working for you in real-time. It must be a transparent, smoothly implemented strategy that all stakeholders – from customers to the board – will be able to understand and comprehe...
May. 4, 2016 11:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,255
Increasing IoT connectivity is forcing enterprises to find elegant solutions to organize and visualize all incoming data from these connected devices with re-configurable dashboard widgets to effectively allow rapid decision-making for everything from immediate actions in tactical situations to strategic analysis and reporting. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Shikhir Singh, Senior Developer Relations Manager at Sencha, will discuss how to create HTML5 dashboards that interact with IoT devic...
May. 4, 2016 09:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,420
Artificial Intelligence has the potential to massively disrupt IoT. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, AJ Abdallat, CEO of Beyond AI, will discuss what the five main drivers are in Artificial Intelligence that could shape the future of the Internet of Things. AJ Abdallat is CEO of Beyond AI. He has over 20 years of management experience in the fields of artificial intelligence, sensors, instruments, devices and software for telecommunications, life sciences, environmental monitoring, process...
May. 4, 2016 05:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,400
The demand for organizations to expand their infrastructure to multiple IT environments like the cloud, on-premise, mobile, bring your own device (BYOD) and the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to grow. As this hybrid infrastructure increases, the challenge to monitor the security of these systems increases in volume and complexity. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stephen Coty, Chief Security Evangelist at Alert Logic, will show how properly configured and managed security architecture can...
May. 4, 2016 05:15 PM EDT Reads: 434
We’ve worked with dozens of early adopters across numerous industries and will debunk common misperceptions, which starts with understanding that many of the connected products we’ll use over the next 5 years are already products, they’re just not yet connected. With an IoT product, time-in-market provides much more essential feedback than ever before. Innovation comes from what you do with the data that the connected product provides in order to enhance the customer experience and optimize busi...
May. 4, 2016 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,330
A critical component of any IoT project is the back-end systems that capture data from remote IoT devices and structure it in a way to answer useful questions. Traditional data warehouse and analytical systems are mature technologies that can be used to handle large data sets, but they are not well suited to many IoT-scale products and the need for real-time insights. At Fuze, we have developed a backend platform as part of our mobility-oriented cloud service that uses Big Data-based approache...
May. 4, 2016 03:30 PM EDT Reads: 660
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ericsson has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Ericsson is a world leader in the rapidly changing environment of communications technology – providing equipment, software and services to enable transformation through mobility. Some 40 percent of global mobile traffic runs through networks we have supplied. More than 1 billion subscribers around the world re...
May. 4, 2016 01:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,354
SYS-CON Events announced today that Peak 10, Inc., a national IT infrastructure and cloud services provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Peak 10 provides reliable, tailored data center and network services, cloud and managed services. Its solutions are designed to scale and adapt to customers’ changing business needs, enabling them to lower costs, improve performance and focus inter...
May. 4, 2016 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,446
We're entering the post-smartphone era, where wearable gadgets from watches and fitness bands to glasses and health aids will power the next technological revolution. With mass adoption of wearable devices comes a new data ecosystem that must be protected. Wearables open new pathways that facilitate the tracking, sharing and storing of consumers’ personal health, location and daily activity data. Consumers have some idea of the data these devices capture, but most don’t realize how revealing and...
May. 4, 2016 12:45 PM EDT Reads: 660
The IoTs will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, will demonstrate how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and share the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the development proc...
May. 4, 2016 12:45 PM EDT Reads: 939
trust and privacy in their ecosystem. Assurance and protection of device identity, secure data encryption and authentication are the key security challenges organizations are trying to address when integrating IoT devices. This holds true for IoT applications in a wide range of industries, for example, healthcare, consumer devices, and manufacturing. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lancen LaChance, vice president of product management, IoT solutions at GlobalSign, will teach IoT developers how t...
May. 4, 2016 12:15 PM EDT Reads: 586
There is an ever-growing explosion of new devices that are connected to the Internet using “cloud” solutions. This rapid growth is creating a massive new demand for efficient access to data. And it’s not just about connecting to that data anymore. This new demand is bringing new issues and challenges and it is important for companies to scale for the coming growth. And with that scaling comes the need for greater security, gathering and data analysis, storage, connectivity and, of course, the...
May. 4, 2016 11:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,263
So, you bought into the current machine learning craze and went on to collect millions/billions of records from this promising new data source. Now, what do you do with them? Too often, the abundance of data quickly turns into an abundance of problems. How do you extract that "magic essence" from your data without falling into the common pitfalls? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Natalia Ponomareva, Software Engineer at Google, will provide tips on how to be successful in large scale machine lear...
May. 4, 2016 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,534
Digital payments using wearable devices such as smart watches, fitness trackers, and payment wristbands are an increasing area of focus for industry participants, and consumer acceptance from early trials and deployments has encouraged some of the biggest names in technology and banking to continue their push to drive growth in this nascent market. Wearable payment systems may utilize near field communication (NFC), radio frequency identification (RFID), or quick response (QR) codes and barcodes...
May. 4, 2016 08:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,023
You think you know what’s in your data. But do you? Most organizations are now aware of the business intelligence represented by their data. Data science stands to take this to a level you never thought of – literally. The techniques of data science, when used with the capabilities of Big Data technologies, can make connections you had not yet imagined, helping you discover new insights and ask new questions of your data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sarbjit Sarkaria, data science team lead ...
May. 4, 2016 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,211
The IETF draft standard for M2M certificates is a security solution specifically designed for the demanding needs of IoT/M2M applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Brian Romansky, VP of Strategic Technology at TrustPoint Innovation, will explain how M2M certificates can efficiently enable confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity on highly constrained devices.
May. 4, 2016 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,294
You deployed your app with the Bluemix PaaS and it's gaining some serious traction, so it's time to make some tweaks. Did you design your application in a way that it can scale in the cloud? Were you even thinking about the cloud when you built the app? If not, chances are your app is going to break. Check out this webcast to learn various techniques for designing applications that will scale successfully in Bluemix, for the confidence you need to take your apps to the next level and beyond.
May. 3, 2016 12:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,629