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September 1999
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Sun to offer Star Division applications for free

Boston (August 31, 1999) -- Sun Microsystems Inc. today announced the upcoming release of StarPortal, a Web-based software suite targeted as a competitor to Microsoft Corp.'s Office and based on technology acquired when Sun bought Star Division Corp.

Sun is scheduled to detail the announcement at a press conference today in New York along with plans to push its network services model as part of an initiative related to the acquisition. Information about the initiative was provided in a written statement from Sun this morning.

Sun said it will launch what it calls an "early-access" version of StarPortal later this year. The site will offer Web-enabled office productivity software including word processing, presentation graphics, spreadsheet, and other office functions via any Web browser and also will be offered for portable devices at some point, Sun said.

Sun also is offering the current StarOffice desktop software for free download at StarOffice 5.1 runs on the Linux, Windows, Solaris, and OS/2 operating systems. Users will be able to import various software file formats, including those from PowerPoint, Excel, and Microsoft Word.

Users of Microsoft Office and other similar software will not need much, if any, training to use StarOffice, according to Sun, and will have immediate access to Office files, which they will be able to modify and export.

StarOffice CDs are priced at US$9.95; the software also can be ordered with printed documentation and support, priced at $39.95. Additional support services will be announced later, Sun said.

Sun is in talks with Internet service, Internet outsourcing, and network hosting providers, and with vendors of enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management, and sales force automation software to promote acceptance of its network services model through use of StarPortal.

Sun is promoting a network services business model in which companies turn over to service providers such tasks as managing networks, servers, and applications.

The company also said it is working on a plan to let software developers integrate StarPortal into their applications. The company also will provide the software source code under licensing terms.

--Nancy Weil, IDG News Service


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