9 December 2002 Systems giant Sun Microsystems has gained a symbolic victory in its bid to break the stranglehold of rival Microsoft on the office productivity software market.
Sony, the Japanese electronics company, is to install Sun’s StarOffice suite of desktop software on its latest Vaio-branded laptop computers. Sun said Sony had become the first major manufacturer to dump Microsoft Office in favour of StarOffice.
Sun believes that the much lower cost of StarOffice can wrest customers away from Microsoft. StarOffice 6.0 sells for around £50 per user in the UK, while MS Office costs about £430 (€672) for a standard version and £520 (€812) for a professional version, according to Sun’s figures.
In addition, Sun claims that most users only use between 5% and 10% of Office’s features. Mru Patel, Sun’s desktop business manager in the UK and Ireland, admitted that StarOffice provides only about 90% of the functionality of Office, but this was sufficient for most corporate and home users.
Sun hopes to capitalise on perceived disenchantment among Microsoft customers about the software giant’s new licensing scheme, which is expected to raise client fees in many cases.
But the company faces a considerable challenge, with Microsoft currently controlling 96% share of the market.
The deal comes in the midst of Sun’s ongoing court case with Microsoft. Sun wants Microsoft’s Windows operating system to immediately support Java, the Sun-developed programming environment. A judge is expected to deliver a ruling before the end of the year.