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StarOffice Dropped From Google Pack 135

Posted by timothy
from the stardom-is-temporary dept.
Barence writes "Sun's StarOffice suite has been mysteriously dropped from the Google Pack of free software. The office suite has been axed without any warning or explanation on the Google site. Is Google trying to drive more people towards its own online suite of office applications? Or has it been stung into action by Steve Ballmer's recent comment that Microsoft Office faces stronger competition from StarOffice than it does Google Docs and Spreadsheet?"
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StarOffice Dropped From Google Pack

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  • by davidbrit2 (775091) on Monday November 10, 2008 @07:55AM (#25702033) Homepage
    ...It's use the frothing rants of Steve Ballmer as the basis of my business strategy.
  • by Shin-LaC (1333529) on Monday November 10, 2008 @08:04AM (#25702071)
    The answer might be obvious to the people involved in the project, but as an external observer I'm left to wonder why they were using StarOffice in the first place. Why not OpenOffice?
    • Support (Score:4, Insightful)

      by dreamchaser (49529) on Monday November 10, 2008 @08:10AM (#25702103) Homepage Journal

      When an enterprise deploys office software they want at least some kind of support from the vendor.

      • Re:Support (Score:5, Insightful)

        by bmo (77928) on Monday November 10, 2008 @08:30AM (#25702209)

        What support?

        Really, what support from the vendor? Have you /read/ your EULA for any software you've used? Ever?

        YOYO.

        You're On Your Own.

        Every EULA should have "YOYO" printed at the top of the first page (typically of dozens) or just say "You're On Your Own" in 28 point type in the middle of a blank page. It would greatly simplify things.

        That support myth is so old. I don't know which myth is older, that one or the "someone to sue" myth.

        Seriously, stop repeating this bullshit.

        • I didn't say I agreed with it, but like it or not that's the mentality of most CIO's. Hopefully as the crusty old bastards retire and die off the mentality will change.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Khuffie (818093)
          The GP was right, though apparently he didnt know why. Most enterprise companies, when they deploy software, also purchase an extra support agreement for said software, usually from the vendor, sometimes from a 3rd party that provides support. Perhaps Star Office has said support from Sun whereas OpenOffice doesn't (not sure).
          • by Bert64 (520050)

            Sun will provide paid support for both staroffice and openoffice, other third parties will also provide paid support for openoffice, often as part of a larger bundle of software such as a linux distribution...

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Agreed. Most EULAs are pretty much this: a notice that states whether or not redistribution is allowed (usually it is not), a notice that states how many computers you can install it on, a notice that says not to reverse engineer it, and a complete disclaimer of all warranty and sometimes even a covenant not to sue.

          You can, of course, usually purchase additional support, sometimes even warranty coverage.

          How does this differ from free/open source software? Not at all. One can purchase support for any majo

        • Re:Support (Score:4, Informative)

          by blincoln (592401) on Monday November 10, 2008 @09:41AM (#25702721) Homepage Journal

          Really, what support from the vendor? Have you /read/ your EULA for any software you've used? Ever?

          I know it's popular on Slashdot to claim that vendor support doesn't exist, but if you work for a large customer of a particular vendor and ask intelligent questions of the right person working for that vendor, you will generally get good support.

          In most situations, it doesn't make economic sense for everyone to have someone on staff who knows the ins and outs of every product they work with as well as a dedicated support person at the vendor does. I tend to get into the nuts and bolts of what I support a lot more than most people would, but there's only so much time in the day, and I support a *lot* of different software for my employer.

          My experience has been that - while there are some vendors who have terrible support overall - generally it's just the first tier that's like that, to act as a buffer because most people who call their vendor's support line are not highly technical and only need basic support (IE something they could have learned from the manual). If you are willing to do the necessary investigation beforehand and put together a package of information (network captures, etc.) you will usually get good results.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by remmelt (837671)

            Is this very different from open source though? You can generally get good support from a mailing list if you ask the right questions. You could also buy some support at the developer's company or another OSS support firm.

            The major difference is that for all the companies without enough clout to get something done at their software suppliers, support is generally nil, where anyone can ask questions on a mailing list or buy decent support.

            • Is this very different from open source though? You can generally get good support from a mailing list if you ask the right questions. You could also buy some support at the developer's company or another OSS support firm.

              The major difference is that for all the companies without enough clout to get something done at their software suppliers, support is generally nil, where anyone can ask questions on a mailing list or buy decent support.

              On a mailing list you might not get a response back, or the response might not work and then they say sorry, can't help you. With a support contract, there's a method of escalation.

              I'm not saying that it works all the time, but it can sometimes help.

              In addition to the escalation process, there is frequently an NDA in place so that you can send support confidential information.

              • by caluml (551744)

                On a mailing list you might not get a response back, or the response might not work and then they say sorry, can't help you. With a support contract, there's a method of escalation.

                I'm not saying that it works all the time, but it can sometimes help.

                Sounds to me like you're saying that they're both as uncertain as each other - but I can pay for one? Wow, I'm sold.

                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  On a mailing list you might not get a response back, or the response might not work and then they say sorry, can't help you. With a support contract, there's a method of escalation. I'm not saying that it works all the time, but it can sometimes help.

                  Sounds to me like you're saying that they're both as uncertain as each other - but I can pay for one? Wow, I'm sold.

                  I guess issue escalation processes and NDAs aren't worth anything to you.

                  • by abigor (540274)

                    Don't forget that most of the people here are kids and computer hobby people, and have never worked in any sort of an enterprise situation. Therefore, they have absolutely no idea of what you're talking about.

                  • by sowth (748135)

                    I guess issue escalation processes and NDAs aren't worth anything to you.

                    This sounds like a good plan! Have it implemented ASAP!

                    Some people actually do this thing called "work." They don't have time to waste on a low level idiot who doesn't know anything.

                    Nor do they have time to waste on NDAs when they are not needed. It pays to be paranoid, but being too paranoid wastes time and money.

            • "Is this very different from open source though? You can generally get good support from a mailing list if you ask the right questions. You could also buy some support at the developer's company or another OSS support firm."

              Besides help with using the software, usually enterprise support would include rapid patches for bugs, and custom feature requests. Those are not available on mailing lists.

            • by Grashnak (1003791)

              Yes, that's brilliant. Just tell the company president that your plan to ensure support for the company's office suite software is to fire off emails to the internet whenever there is a problem.

              Regardless of how well forums or mail lists work, its not very sellable to senior management.

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by fatphil (181876)
          Loads of support:

          1) There's an email address or telephone number where you make your request for support.
          2) Someone will answer that within 3, or sometimes 7, working days to indicate they've received your request for support.

          What more do you want?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jellomizer (103300)

          The EULA is the legal responsibility to not support the product. Then you have the real reason to support the product. The fact that you paid for the current version and if they do not properly support the software chances are they will not purchase the next version. Hence future money in their pocket. Even the Mighty Microsoft needs to keep good relations with their customers. Even though they may have a monopoly on Office tools and OS's it is not a strong one. OpenOffice google docs, etc... May be go

      • so many buzzwords. 'enterprise', 'deploy', 'office software', 'vendor'.

        i dunno, was sun offering support for staroffice as part of the google pack?
        is it impossible to get support for openoffice.org?
      • by MrZaius (321037)

        "When an enterprise deploys office software they want at least some kind of support from the vendor."

        But... this is a package of free as in beer home-use applications never intended, at least in its most common form, for corporate use. The real answer is that the added clip-art and other miscellaneous minor differences between StarOffice and its OpenOffice base are well worth including if you're getting them for free. If not, it makes more sense to stick with OpenOffice. This is more likely to be an interim

        • by hairyfeet (841228)
          Actually you can get all that from Oxygen Office [sourceforge.net] which is what I have been handing to my SMB customers and they love it. It is usually a couple of months behind OO.o,but it has all the templates,clip art,and VBA support that my SMBs prefer over OO.o. And with the economy in the toilet free is a really good reason for a SMB to make the effort to switch. So if you know someone who needs the extras just hand this to them. I'll bet they like it.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 10, 2008 @08:23AM (#25702165)

      StarOffice has some proprietary parts that couldn't be put into OpenOffice. In particular, Sun Microsystems licensed information about the format of Office files from Microsoft, to gain better compatibility.

      • by David Gerard (12369) <slashdotNO@SPAMdavidgerard.co.uk> on Monday November 10, 2008 @08:37AM (#25702249) Homepage

        "In particular, Sun Microsystems licensed information about the format of Office files from Microsoft, to gain better compatibility."

        [citation needed]

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Last I checked, MS Office support in StarOffice was just as good/bad as it is in OpenOffice 2.0. I seriously doubt Microsoft would give anyone information about the MS Office formats -- this isn't exactly the days where WordPerfect and Lotus 1-2-3 rule the earth anymore.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by GIL_Dude (850471)
          You mean like this: http://developers.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/02/20/0420258 [slashdot.org], where they opened up the specifications on their binary formats? I understand there is some discussion on the terms - and whether they can be used by GPL projects or not - and I don't take a position on that (not being a lawyer). But, it certainly isn't true that they wouldn't give information about the formats to ANYONE. They certainly HAVE given them to people.
        • Last I checked, MS Office support in StarOffice was just as good/bad as it is in OpenOffice 2.0.

          Mostly I find it's pretty good. But what really made me read this far was to find out if anyone actually still uses StarOffice, since the open form has been made available...
      • In particular, Sun Microsystems licensed information about the format of Office files from Microsoft, to gain better compatibility.

        No. Both Open- and Star- Office use their own MS-Office readers. (I was under the impression that some of the work on wvWare [sourceforge.net] has helped developing OOo's but I'm not sure. I might be confusing with antiword [demon.nl]). Nothing licensed from Microsoft.

        3rd party non-OSS code was used to provide a reader for WordPerfect's Office suite.
        StarOffice uses a 3rd party closed source reader.
        Whereas OOo has more recently incorporated the function thank to a separate opensource project (libwpd [sourceforge.net] if my memory still works).

        Given the f

    • Star Office is built from Open Office but because it is a paid for product you get support from Sun and small set of features that can't be done with free software do to patents or something like that.

  • "Or has it been stung into action by Steve Ballmer's recent comment that Microsoft Office faces stronger competition from StarOffice than it does Google Docs and Spreadsheet?"

    Didn't Balmer just recently claim that Android is nothing to worry about? I have the feeling Balmer likes Google. I wonder what search engine he uses by the way. :)
    • I wonder what search engine he uses by the way. :)

      I see Balmer as a living on the edge kind of guy.
      Obviously Baidu [baidu.com] is the natural choice for him.

    • by rtb61 (674572)

      I have a feeling that everybody just ignores anything ballmer has to say, except of course if your work at M$. Star Office and Open Office are both ultimately competitors for google's privacy invasive cloud vision, it is hardly surprising that they would make changes to what they offer in an effort to push users to the cloud products. They are even going with the fear marketing model, oh no, the hackers will destroy your data, your hardware will fail, poorly configured, maintained and updated systems will

  • Sooner or later they'll face the consequences. Revenge doesn't solve anything, unless you're having problems starting a World War III.
  • It's obvious.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) on Monday November 10, 2008 @08:09AM (#25702097) Homepage Journal
    Google Apps. Google's only obligation since becoming a publicly traded company (GOOG) is this...

    Making a profit for shareholders

    Including StarOffice does nothing to that end.

    Honestly why is anyone surprised when Google acts like a real company?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by noshellswill (598066)
      Classic short-sight! GOOGLES value largely depends on how web_usrs view it as an "honest broker". Usrs revalue the company every day. GOOGLE is one-button-click away from bankruptcy and that button must be considered & re-chosen constantly. Other buttons abound. It's not like GOOGLE makes toilet-seats.....
    • This includes making competitors fight on their home turf - i.e., taking the battle to Windows and Office. So this still seems an odd move.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Honestly why is anyone surprised when Google acts like a real company?

      Because they seldom do. Most of their services and applications are for free. Plus, if you are a heavy user of adblocker, you don't see their adds either. So its easy to forget that they aren't a non-for profit at times.

  • staroffice? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sdnoob (917382) on Monday November 10, 2008 @08:18AM (#25702135)

    was google PAYING sun for (the commercially licensed) staroffice? perhaps this is just the first step in replacing staroffice with (the free) openoffice to eliminate that (unnecessary) expense.

    note that staroffice 8 is also over three years old (derived from openoffice 2.0), compared to openoffice 3, which was recently released... google could simply be moving to openoffice to stay more current with the software.

    but i wouldn't put it past 'em to be removing it completely in order to drive users to their (less capable) web applications; as the article suggests. if they do not actually replace staroffice with another offline equivalent (e.g. openoffice), though, there may be some user backlash.

    • Re:staroffice? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday November 10, 2008 @08:56AM (#25702355) Journal
      Or maybe they're following the IBM route, and making their own fork of OpenOffice.org, only in their case with better integration with Google apps (e.g. storing documents on their servers and sharing them via Google Apps).
    • Some user backlash (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nurb432 (527695)

      Ya, for about 5 minutes. The attention span of a typical user today is a 30 minute sitcom.

      Give it a couple of weeks and people will forget it was even an option.

  • by Spasemunki (63473) on Monday November 10, 2008 @08:19AM (#25702145) Homepage

    is that we begin right away with the baseless speculation about which of many conspiracies is responsible for this omission. God forbid someone email someone at Google, or wait until they make a blog post or something.

  • Doesn't make sense (Score:3, Insightful)

    by toxygen01 (901511) on Monday November 10, 2008 @08:26AM (#25702175) Journal
    How in the first place could have been staroffice included in "Google Pack of free software" when it's proprietary?
  • by biscuitlover (1306893) on Monday November 10, 2008 @08:43AM (#25702273)

    Maybe Google are removing a competitor to their own office applications because... they are a competitor to their own office applications.

    In order for Google to make any kind of inroads into Microsoft's customer base, they have to convince people that online apps are just as viable as their offline counterparts. So providing an offline office suite in the Google Pack - ostensibly to keep the doubters happy - might be considered by some to be an admission that Google Docs won't do the job.

    • by digitig (1056110)

      Does Google Documents include support for user-defines templates yet? Without them, I don't consider them to be in competition with offline office apps. I don't want to have to set up my letterhead and so on every time I type a letter.

    • by fatphil (181876)
      I'm not sure I really see why the following (from the summary) is an _OR_:

      Is Google trying to drive more people towards its own online suite of office applications?

      Or

      has it been stung into action by Steve Ballmer's recent comment that Microsoft Office faces stronger competition from StarOffice than it does Google Docs and Spreadsheet?"

      I'd suggest that it was an _AND_ instead. _AND_ what you said too. The overlap of the 3 is pretty complete.
  • by teslatug (543527) on Monday November 10, 2008 @09:16AM (#25702475)
    Google should develop a really good plugin for OpenOffice.org that makes it a client for Google Docs. It should handle uploading, downloading, synchronizing, merging conflicts, etc. That would scare MS off a lot more, and it would actually make both OOo and Google Docs more useful.
    • by Jim Hall (2985)

      Google should develop a really good plugin for OpenOffice.org that makes it a client for Google Docs. It should handle uploading, downloading, synchronizing, merging conflicts, etc. [...]

      This is a really good idea. I'd be satisfied if it only supported upload/download (that is, Google Docs becomes another place for OpenOffice.org to save docs.) This might make it easier for people to migrate to Google Docs if we didn't have to upload everything before using Docs.

  • by MazzThePianoman (996530) on Monday November 10, 2008 @09:22AM (#25702527) Homepage
    Forget about StarOffice, axe Norton Security Scan. I am wondering why they are having anything to do with Norton who makes the most bloated, resource wasting, performance sucking, software on the planet. There are better solutions out there that don't kill the usability of your computer.
    • by GuyverDH (232921)

      Let me guess, the last time you tried Norton was when? 2004? 2005?

      I'd much prefer NIS 2009 to the current corporate McAfee bloatware.

      Try NIS 2008 - then 2009... 2008 was lightweight, 2009 is a featherweight as far as system resources go.

    • by gad_zuki! (70830)

      IIRC, Norton Security Scan isnt a bloaty realtime scanner. Its like ClamAV or Microsoft's Malicious software remover tool. It has definitions of malware and can do a full scan when the user gets suspicious. Its probably a good idea to keep it in the pack, considering the infection level of your average PC. I wonder how many computers have been saved simply be running this or the MSRT.

      Google also has a pretty big incentive to bundle AV scanners. A significant number of issues with its software can be trace

    • I am wondering why they are having anything to do with Norton who makes the most bloated, resource wasting, performance sucking, software on the planet.

      Yeah, bypass the middleman. Vista comes pre-bloated, pre-resource wasting, pre-sucking... etc.

      Sorry. Couldn't resist.

      Does anyone remember when the Norton Utilities were the most useful pieces of software you could buy? SecMod, DirSort, all those things? They were the SysInternals of their day.

      Does anyone remember the last time Norton software was something

      • by hairyfeet (841228)

        Oh,yeah,those were the days. At the shop I was working at we kept a box of Norton Utilities CDs by the counter and recommended it to every Win9X box that came through the door. In the Win9X days you were crazy NOT to use Norton. Its Disk Doctor beat Windows Scandisk by a mile and its real time monitor app would catch a lot of Windows screwups as they happened. Really nice tool to have in one's toolbox.

        As for when it turned to crap,despite most folks thinking it was the second Symantec got ahold of them,it

        • I wonder how long Peter Norton was actually involved with writing the tools. I wonder the ending of his involvement was when it went from a suite of extremely useful utilities to a lumbering behemoth that served little purpose other than to make XP less usable than Vista.

  • Google Apps (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by Grimbleton (1034446)

    When I'm away from my own computer, I rarely, if ever, type anything in whatever's installed on the computer I'm on. It's almost always a quick log in to Google Docs.

    I like online software. I like it a lot.

  • I would much rather see OpenOffice 3.0 put into the Google Pack.
  • by sorak (246725) on Monday November 10, 2008 @10:06AM (#25703057)

    How were they giving it away in the first place? If you go to Sun's website and try to download Star Office normally, it's $70. So how was Google able to give it away for free, and why isn't "sun wanted cash" a possible explanation for Google dropping the product?

  • by rgviza (1303161)

    >Google trying to drive more people towards its own online suite of office applications?

    Google apps are pretty damn good now. I use them all the time. I'll take "can access it from anywhere without installing any software" over hardcore features any day of the week.

    They also have built in collaboration. Star Office is kind of redundant. Then again I'm just a "normal" person with regard to Office products. As a software engineer, my requirements for an office product set the bar pretty low.

    An accountant,

    • I don't know, online stuff is good and all, but I've been in enough situations without access to the Internet (or any other network) to where I still see value in local applications. A hybridization of the two seems like the best compromise. That said, my favorite type of online program is something running locally, but with the ability to connect to a server with a local cache. The IMAP protocol is my favorite way to fetch my e-mail, and I'd love for there to be more applications following a similar met
      • by mikesd81 (518581)

        I don't know, online stuff is good and all, but I've been in enough situations without access to the Internet (or any other network) to where I still see value in local applications.

        But not only that. How many times have a big internet company lost logins and passwords and personal data? And while Google Docs is good, I like having my full featured suite available, whether it be Open Office or Star, or Microsoft, or whatever.

  • Expect Google Pack to have Chrome and desktop hotlinks to launch Chromeified desktop versions of Google Apps.

    • by abigor (540274)

      Yes, I think you are right on the money. It's no surprise at all that Google would drop a package that is a competitor to their own, getting-close-to-very-useable, online apps.

  • At least they removed the icons altogether rather then just linking them to Google Docs...
  • Could we change the title of the site to "FUD for Nerds?"

    You're freaking slashdot. Pick up the freaking phone and call google and ask them. A whole bunch of nerds would like to know; get us a damn answer.

  • Or has it been stung into action by Steve Ballmer's recent comment that Microsoft Office faces stronger competition from StarOffice than it does Google Docs and Spreadsheet?"

    Well of course MS is facing stronger competition from StarOffice. After all it is a full featured office package. Google Docs and Spreadsheet are neat, but nothing beats having all the features an office suite provides.

  • by Vandil X (636030) on Monday November 10, 2008 @01:36PM (#25707017)
    Here's why!

    Microsoft Signs MSN Toolbar Deal With Sun [pcworld.com]

    Google caught wind of a Microsoft/Sun deal.
  • by nathana (2525) * <nathan@anderson-net.com> on Monday November 10, 2008 @01:40PM (#25707111) Homepage

    ...as I point out here [slashdot.org].

    -- Nathan

  • by hakawati (1404015) on Monday November 10, 2008 @01:50PM (#25707297)
    Sun just signed an agreement to distribute the MS Search bar with it's java download http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/11/10/sun_stows_ms_search_on_java/ [theregister.co.uk] I would guess this has a lot to do with Google not promoting the StarOffice suite anymore.
  • Conclusion: Sun stopped paying.

    Other obvious paid inclusions are the Norton and Realplayer malware.

  • The word processors. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ChrisMaple (607946) on Monday November 10, 2008 @10:24PM (#25715117)

    I used Microsoft Word, 7 years ago. It was much more powerful then than Open Office is now. Google Docs is hopeless; it can't even read a sophisticated .doc file correctly.

    Word can do things like a color gradient side border with rotated text that are hideously difficult or impossible with other editors.

    I'm trying to make a sharp-looking resume. I am continually frustrated in my efforts by Open Office. I can't put text where I want it, I can't put horizontal lines where I want them, I can't get font sizes to print as they look on the screen (or to print or display the same size as Word prints and displays the same TrueType font.) I'm going to have to buy the Microsoft product to get the results I want, and that displeases me. Some employers require resumes in Word format, and the Open Office .doc format output doesn't always work.

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