Information Week: Sun’s StarOffice Gambit

“Sun made international news last week when it started giving
away the StarOffice Suite. StarOffice is the crown jewel of a
company Sun recently acquired, Softwareentwicklungs GmbH, now
renamed StarDivision Corp., a wholly owned subsidiary of Sun.
Giving away the office suite is a gutsy move that–despite Sun CEO
Scott McNealy’s protests to the contrary–may do to Microsoft what
Microsoft did to Netscape…”

“…Today, Microsoft earns something like 40% of its revenue
from Microsoft Office. The cheapest and most limited incarnations
of Office cost around $180 a pop; the most elaborate and expensive
cost almost $1,000. Sun, by releasing a free, fully functional and
highly capable office suite into this profit-rich venue, has
potentially devalued Microsoft Office in much the same way that IE
once devalued Netscape’s browser…”

So, StarOffice is an interesting and real competitor to
Microsoft Office in its own right; but given the fact that it’s
free and that its operation weans its users away from Microsoft’s
visual dominance of the desktop … well, if I were Bill Gates, I’d
be worried.