Sun Inks StarOffice Deal with India

Sun Microsystems is claiming another victory in its ongoing campaign to oust Microsoft Office from its position as market leader. The Indian State of Haryana has standardized Sun's StarOffice open source software as its primary productivity solution throughout all state government offices.

With this decision, India joins Brazil, England, Germany, and Israel in their collective shunning of Microsoft in favor of thriftier open source alternatives.

The StarOffice suite features word processing, spreadsheet, database, presentation, and drawing functionality in a value-priced open source package that supports Microsoft's file formats and XML. The state of Haryana is seeking to capitalize on lower cost software to bankroll the distribution of low-cost PCs to its 21.1 million citizens. The decision to adopt StarOffice comes as a result of this strategy.

India is not alone in subsidizing the liberalized ownership of technology. Microsoft has managed to participate in a similar program in Thailand by offering a specialized "light" version of Windows XP and rebated Thai edition of Office XP.

A Microsoft spokesperson billed its involvement in Thailand's ICT program as the "only trial of its kind" that the software giant is currently participating in. In the case of ICT, the initial batch of PCs shipped out under the program came with OpenOffice preinstalled before Microsoft stepped in as a vendor.

OpenOffice is a free-of-cost open source suite built upon the same foundation as StarOffice. The project recently hit the 1.1 milestone on its roadmap to offer a viable alternative to the Microsoft Office System. Both StarOffice and OpenOffice include broad language support to entice emerging markets.

In the enterprise, India's United India Insurance Company recently inked a 10,000 seat deal with Sun for the licensing of StarOffice. Despite the progress, a recent Yankee Group survey indicates that Microsoft rests comfortably with a near 90 percent share of the market.

Corel recently stepped back into the ring to duke it out for the remaining market share. WordPerfect 12 is a value-priced closed source alternative to Microsoft Office, which offers improved compatibility, a similar interface to MS Office and mobile office capabilities.

As the competition heats up, Microsoft is busy readying a service pack for Office 2003 that includes new functionality for InfoPath alongside usual bug fixes and enhancements.

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