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StarOffice 5.2, is this competition for Microsoft Office?


Are you a dedicated follower of Microsoft Office or are you prepared to view any other applications that may offer the same (or at least similar) functionality without having to pay a single penny?

Sun Microsystems suite of desktop publications called StarOffice 5.2. It has free distribution where you can either download it or request a free CD. The first point to consider is that this application does not have all the in-depth functionality of Microsoft Office, however, it can work across several different operating systems and provide a platform that integrates applications with each other and the desktop.

In StarOffice 5.2, there are all the applications that you require such as a wordprocessor, spreadsheet, presentation and database applications, etc. Apparently it is not as easy to learn as Microsoft Office and this could become quite a time-consuming task to undertake especially if you are familiar with Microsoft products, that you do not wish to waste your time looking at anything else, however it has been suggested that this cross-platform suite of applications is definately one worth looking at.

There are eight main components that make up StarOffice 5.2 and they are all brought together through the StarOffice interface. They are also interoperable through filters with the Microsoft suite such as Word, Excel and Powerpoint. What makes it more impressive however, is the interoperability between the StarOffice applications, meaning that any data from Sun's tools can be brought through another simply by drag and drop techniques.

As with most applications, there are still developments that need to be done, for example if you are new to the product, there are not as many helpful features to guide the user through the system as with Microsoft Office and this could make the learning process quite uncomfortable. Many finer points of StarOffice may be found through trial and error rather than being pointed to them in the first place.

This application can be used on a wide range of operating system platforms and also servers as well as desktop PC's and workstations. As this application does not cost anything, some organisations that do use a range of different platforms could actually standardise on this system throughout their organisation without having to undertake large cost-justification exercises, however, it is always recommended to evaluate and test any product before steaming ahead with this idea.

Has anyone used StarOffice 5.1 or 2 in any depth or had a look at this application? If you have, it would be extremely useful if you could add your comments beneath this article as to your impression and whether you think this a worthy rival to Microsoft Office.


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