OHCAGG-L ArchivesArchiver > OHCAGG > 2001-12 > 1008617660
Subject: Free Office Software
Date: Mon, 17 Dec 2001 14:34:20 -0500
- Last Chance For StarOffice 6.0 Beta
The best-known personal productivity suite in the world is
Microsoft Office. This "suite" is a collection of programs for
word processing, spreadsheets, presentations and handling one's
personal calendar and telephone book. The programs in Microsoft
Office include Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook. These are all
fine programs, very powerful, and also quite user-friendly.
However, Microsoft Office carries a very high price tag. The
standard edition has a "street price" of about $479. Some other
versions have additional programs bundled in, such as Access, but
carry even higher price tags. Don't forget that those prices are
To be sure, there are lower-cost alternatives. WordPerfect Office
is probably the best-known competitor, but even this product has a
"street price" of about $330. That's a lot of money for a private
individual who wants to write a few letters, calculate taxes, and
maybe keep a telephone list. Luckily, there are still other
competitors available. Some of them have the capability of
Microsoft's and WordPerfect's office suites and have a much lower
price tag. Much, much lower. In fact, my favorite one is free.
That's right, zero. Nada. Zip. However, it won't be available much
My favorite free personal productivity suite is StarOffice,
available from Sun Microsystems, the same people who produce the
heavy-duty UNIX systems. In fact, StarOffice is available on Sun
Microsystem's Solaris operating system as well as other versions
for Microsoft Windows and for Linux. Two years ago, in the
December 27, 1999 edition of this newsletter, I wrote about the
then-current version of StarOffice:
If you are looking for a full-featured suite of office
programs, including word processor, spreadsheet, Web browser,
presentation program and more, you won't find a better program
for the price. In fact, I doubt if you will find anything
close to this for even $200 or $300 retail price.
You can still read my full review of StarOffice at:
Little has changed since I wrote those words. StarOffice has been
updated, and version 6.0 became available in a beta test version
about two months ago. The Version 6.0 beta release is available
for Microsoft Windows, Linux and Solaris. I downloaded StarOffice
6.0 beta some time ago and use it daily on my Linux system. The
Windows version is almost identical to the Linux version.
Is this free software suite just as good as Microsoft Office?
Well, the answer will vary from one user to another. My personal
opinion is that StarOffice is "almost as good as Microsoft
Office." It probably has 95% of the functionality of Microsoft's
product, and the remaining 5% is stuff that I don't normally use.
I can forego that 5% if I can keep $479 in my pocket! Also,
StarOffice has some features not found in Microsoft Office,
including a rather good drawing program.
However, version 6.0 beta is about to disappear from Sun's
download site. The beta version was made available to the public
so that Sun could obtain feedback from users as to software design
issues or possible bugs. While I haven't encountered any bugs in
my usage, Sun apparently has received all the information they
seek. "We've got all the feedback we can handle here," spokesman
Russ Castronovo said. "We are at saturation point. I think we've
satisfied the requirements of the program."
Version 6.0 beta will probably disappear from Sun's download site
on January 1, 2002. It may re-appear later in the year as a
commercial program. The current version 5.2 production release
will continue to be available for some time after January 1,
however. You can obtain version 5.2 at:
Version 6.0 beta adds a lot of new features and has a much better
user interface than version 5.2, in my opinion. If you would like
to obtain version 6.0 beta of this excellent free personal
productivity suite, I suggest you do so now before it disappears.
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