StarOffice 8 release date slips

Sun claims it is merely a marketing decision, but others suggest the delay is down to bugs in the software

Sun will release its next version of StarOffice in September, two months later than originally planned.

In May, Sun said that StarOffice 8, which has been in beta since February, would be released in July.

Simon Schouten, the UK desktop sales manager for Sun, said on Friday that StarOffice 8 will be released on 12 September, during the company's quarterly product launch event. The date was changed to allow Sun to release new versions of other desktop products — including Java Desktop System, Tarantella and Sun Ray — on the same date, he said.

"Quite simply, there's a load of other stuff happening around the desktop portfolio, so the company decided that they'd rather do a September StarOffice launch," said Schouten.

ZDNet UK has learned from sources close to Sun, that the company planned to start producing StarOffice 8 CDs on 3 June, but later pulled back from this date. Sun later released a second internal beta, suggesting that there may have been bugs in the initial version of StarOffice, the source said.

Sun's Schouten denied that software bugs caused the delay in the release date and claimed it was purely a "marketing decision".

The likelihood that StarOffice has in fact been delayed by bugs in the code has been given more credence by the fact that (OOo), the open source office productivity application on which StarOffice is based, was delayed for just this reason.

John McCreesh, a marketing contact for OOo, claimed on Friday that OOo 2.0 had been delayed for two reasons: to give developers time to fix bugs in the OOo 2.0 beta and to give developers time to make the product fully compatible with the OpenDocument format, which was approved by the OASIS standards group in May.

"The beta test version had over one million downloads. We've received huge amounts of feedback, which means there is more stuff to fix," said McCreesh.

Michael Meeks, a developer on OOo, the open source office productivity application on which StarOffice is based, said that version 2.0 of his organisation's application is likely to be available "shortly after" the StarOffice release.

A second beta of OOo 2.0, which will include the bugs fixed since the original beta release in February, is due in early August, according to a posting on the OOo mailing list. Meeks confirmed that the second beta will be released soon.

Meeks was disappointed by the change in the release date, particularly as the last major version of OOo was released almost two years ago. "It's pretty pathetic," he said. "A lot of the features that were done in the first six months could have been out there already."

Meeks called for developers to switch to a more regular release cycle. "We badly need to change to a six month release schedule, regardless of features," he said.