Sun launches StarOffice 8

StarOffice 8 is thought to be the first commercial office suite to use the OpenDocument format, which was recently adopted by the commonwealth of Massachusetts

Sun released StarOffice 8, the next version of its office productivity application that provides improved compatibility with Microsoft Office files, on Tuesday.

StarOffice, which has the same code base as the open source project, includes word-processing, spreadsheet, presentation, drawing and database applications.

The latest version of StarOffice offers improved compatibility with Microsoft Office, including support for password-protected Microsoft Word and Excel files and support for PowerPoint presentations with animations, autoshapes and slide transitions, according to Sun. Such compatibility is important as companies that migrate from Microsoft Office will almost certainly still need to share files with suppliers and customers that use Microsoft software.

Sun claimed that StarOffice 8 is "the first commercial office suite to use the OpenDocument format", a file format developed by the standards body OASIS. The commonwealth of Massachusetts has already embraced the OpenDocument format, in a move that officials claim will save money and ensure the preservation of state records over time. Microsoft has said it will not support the OpenDocument format.

StarOffice 8, which has been in beta since February, was initially due to be released in July. Sun claimed last month that the delay was purely a marketing decision, but sources close to Sun said the company planned to start pressing 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.

The office productivity application can be downloaded from the Sun Web site immediately and packaged versions will be available from October. For enterprise customers, StarOffice 8 software is priced from $35 (£20) per user. Consumers can download the software for $69.95 or buy the packaged product for $99.95.