'

StarOffice 5.2 beta available for download

New features include improved compatibility with Microsoft Office

In its continued effort to muscle in on the market for Microsoft's Office suite, Sun has released the beta version of Star Office 5.2. The software is currently available for free download at the company's site.

The majority of the improvements in the new release involve improved compatibility with Microsoft Office. The filters have been improved and there is added support for more object types and formatting when exporting and importing to and from Office file formats. Support for Microsoft Office 2000 file formats has also been included.

Sun has added a new player for StarOffice 5.2 software presentations. This allows users to play presentations on any computer, without having to install StarOffice first. A new pack feature in Impresse gives users the ability to compress presentations and save them across multiple storage media.

There are over 200 new features in the release, although testers report that the suite's browser does not support all multimedia formats on the Internet, including Flash.

StarOffice, which was acquired by Sun last autumn and given away free over the Internet, has seen over one million downloads to date. It includes modules for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, drawing, graphics, scheduling, database functions, HTML editing, email and news reading.

What do you think? Tell the Mailroom. And read what others have said.