Star Office

StarOffice is the integrated office suite recently purchased by Sun and offered free. See: I ordered the CD from Sun and installed it last night on my windows system at home. (The CD includes install files for Linux, OS/2, Windows, Solaris, etc. as well.) Based on only an hour browsing the help files, I was astounded at the quality and level of feature offered. It looks great!

Does anyone know anything about the development team, environment and approach? Assuming that an army of developers were not involved (and the design is consistent enough that I doubt it) they must have some pretty great techniques and strategies going for them.

(Just saw a report that Microsoft has hired four key developers away from the German company that was bought by Sun.)
A half-baked copy of MicrosoftWord. And you can bet your paycheck that Sun will turn this commercial very soon in their attempt to become the next Microsoft now that the courts have done for them what they can't do in the marketplace.
Half-baked copy of Microsoft Word? Have you looked at it? Tried it? How about a more cleanly designed Word, Excel, Draw, and Paint. And for good measure, a Web browser, e-mail, news access, Presentation (Power Point-ish) and database (not Access, but more than useful).

Downside: there are bugs, there seems to be no support. Damn serious, but then again, they were trying to emulate MS, weren't they. --JimRussell

Yes, I have used it extensively on Linux for years and I stand by my assertion of half-baked copy of Microsoft Office. And the point is that Sun bought them to counter Office as they transition to becoming the evil empire themselves.

There was an interesting shift there-- the initial assertion was a "half-baked copy of MicrosoftWord." Then after detailing other non-Word functions in StarOffice, it becomes something larger: a "half-baked copy of Microsoft Office." Hmmm.

When I first heard about StarOffice, I was excited. I have long since wanted to avoid the mindless Microsoft upgrade cycle-- forced on me if I choose to maintain compatibility with their latest versions. So I saw StarOffice as a way to get equivalent functionality. So I used it for three months, to see if it really did meet the hype.

Three months later, I was back using Microsoft Office.

It's been said many times that there is a lot of functionality in Microsoft Office that the majority of people don't know about and don't use. That's true, but some of that functionality is vitally important to some people. Like me. So there are probably people-- probably lots of people-- who will find StarOffice more than what they'll ever need. In fact, I set up several friends with StarOffice, and they love it. But they are using StarOffice to whip off angry letters to the editor, update their kid's little league web site, or to be able to print Word and Excel documents they receive from others.

For my needs, it's not enough. -- JohnPassaniti

That was a type on my part in the begining. I know it's a full suite and have used it extensively. I should have said half-baked copy of Office but I slipped because we were having a discussion of MicrosoftWord only in another topic. I can ensure that I have used it. I have it running right now on two of my Linux machines. I DO think it's a hundred times better than WordPerfect, which I have always disliked in all it's versions. Like you, I had an initial excitement - real software for Linux! But for me, it's only for Linux. It just doesn't do enough for me. I need all the things that Office does. But it is a great effort as long as it stays free. I just don't think that is in Sun's long-term plans.

Star Office is one bastard example (meant in a good way) of ReverseEngineering in action. Have you looked closely at what it does on an X-Windows system? It's impressive. Set it up to full screen (aka take over my desktop) mode, and you've suddenly got a Solaris or Linux machine that almost looks exactly like Windows 95/98/NT. Start Menu, digital clock (with date on mouse-hold-over) in a "taskbar" to the right, as well as "xterm" command buttons. Sure, it doesn't always work perfectly, but they still seem to have re-made the relevant parts of the MicroSoft API almost perfectly.

On the other hand, when I installed in on NT I got full screen by default, and didn't immediately notice that I was no longer looking at the NT desktop. I was very, very confused for some time.

That said, I still can't quite recommend it for use at my workplace, due to incompatibilities with the latest version of MS Word. @%#$ MS and the file format they rode in on.

Speakign of file formts: curiously, RationalRose won't properly interpret .wmf files generated by StarOffice (the file are ok, I think, since PaintshopPro? will read them correctly)

I would be interested in knowing what type of features you miss in StarOffice that MS Office has.

The more I use StarOffice the more impressed I am. The drawing package is mind-blowing for a free product: it has all most-used features of a CAD package/electric pencil. Try doing a dimensioned drawing in PowerPoint!

Recently, I've been driven near insane by Word's inability to maintain the positions of diagrams in a document over a save-load cycle. But StarOffice has frames (like a professional quality document prep. system would). I'd say that it is better integrated that MicrosoftOffice.

There are some wrinkles in the gui I don't like: the shift-click to get the pop-up menus is strange (is it standing in for the third button that the mice on real computers have, I wonder?). But overall, I think its a damn sexy product.

Also: in some difficult to describe way, there's a very German flavour (and not just because some of the help hasn't been translated) to the thing. It feels, ummmm, small and smooth and made of some clever alloy and very dense and you just know it's got lots of finely machined components inside it. I'm reminded of my Braun 8mm cine camera. It pleases me greatly.


how do the windows sound when you shut them?

Ha ha. That's something to do with cars? I don't drive so can't really comment.

Seriously, though, StarOffice as a well engineered feel to it that seems European. I'd contrast that feeling with that from both the very flashy, but basically crap LotusNotes and the clunky, HeathRobinson, MicrosoftOffice.

you mean CentralEuropean? or just European out of interest?

Hmmmm, is united Germany central Europe? I suppose it is. Thinks. European countries famed for engineering (of one kind or another): FederalRepublicOfGermany?, ConfederacyOfSwitzerland?, UnitedKingdom, RepublicOfItaly?, KingdomOfSweden?, SerBia? (once upon a time, I don't know what Serbia's status was pre WW1).

stir stir ... the Americans are just waking up ... ho ho Yes indeed, should be a hoot!

I remember well my first encounter with StarDivision?, the company that developed StarOffice, and then was bought by Sun. I was a kid, visiting a at a computer trade show. At one dark corner of the booth of Schneider/Amstrad there was one lonely guy promoting his graphics extension software for the CPC464. This cool hack allowed to have more colors on the screen of a CPC464 than the hardware was actually capable of doing (clever switching of the color table during frame flyback).

This lonely guy with the bunch of casette tapes was the founder, owner, and at that time only employee of StarDivision?. Now he is worth a few million $.

What about that adorable little animated computer helper with all the useful advice that makes MS Office so much fun to use? Does StarOffice have that? I don't THINK so! I even love the way he waves good-bye to me when I ask him to go to sleep at TheEnd. --AndyPierce

Seek help, Andy

The MicroSoft Office wannabe that's a pile of rubbish

I thought that when Sun bought StarOffice they had loads of PR about how they planned to turn StarOffice into a hosted application... the idea was 0 installed software, just Java applets in the browser, and personal files (e.g. your .doc files) stored on a Sun server. And this was in approximately 1997! Way before the MicroSoft Hailstorm (aka MyServices?) and the .NET hype machine.

However, forward to 2001 and StarOffice remains a "click for massive download" or "order our CD-ROM" type of application. What happened to their exciting original vision?

Due to slow Internet connection, I bought the CD of StarOffice 5.2 in a store. I like it a lot, but you have to learn their way of doing things, and there are a few bugs. One bug is that if you're designing a business card, and you want to back up to a previous step, you can't. You have to cancel the process and start over. -- FrankRobinson

And OpenOffice? Seems better to me and still free. Too bad StarOffice is expensive for for what it does... Should have OpenSourced? it.

No one ever mentioned what it is MicrosoftOffice does that StarOffice does not do.



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