Sun Posts StarOffice 9 Beta For OS X

Sun Microsystems posted a beta version of StarOffice 9 today (based on OpenOffice). The 183MB download gives you a disk image that contains an application you just copy into your Applications folder (no icky/cumbersome installer). Upon first launch, it prompts you to read the license agreement and asks for some basic user information. Unfortunately, it also stalled on me and required a Force Quit and relaunch before I could start testing it out.

All-in-all, there are some pretty neat enhancements, including:

  • support for Microsoft Office 2007 OOXML files
  • a much improved presenter interface (for slideshows)
  • the ability to import and edit PDF files (via an extension)
  • PDF/A export support along with PDF encryption options
  • much better integration with MySQL databases
  • a calendar extension (requires Thunderbird), finally providing StarOffice with the beginnings of an Outlook competitor
  • a blogging & wiki publishing components (additional extensions)
  • charting and “Solver” additions to Calc
  • a new extension framework (allowing you to roll your own)

I had time to try the Microsoft document support and enhanced PDF import & export and was greatly impressed. You edit PDF files in Draw (kinda makes sense) and can do minor manipulations very easily (though the formatting may not always carry over 100% in the beta). I wanted to try the weblog publisher, but it kept hanging StarOffice each time I tried loading the extension (I can, as a result, report that document recovery works perfectly!).

Since it’s beta, Sun would appreciate feedback you can post your experiences/problems to:

  • General Discussions for feedback about all findings around StarOffice 9 Beta
  • Installation for feedback about StarOffice 9 Beta Installation issues, and
  • Extensions for feedback about StarOffice 9 Beta Extensions

StarOffice 8 is currently listing for $69.95USD, so we can probably expect version 9 to be around that price (which is substantially cheaper than Microsoft Office).

If any TAB readers are heavy Calc users or manage to try out the new Impress or blogging/wiki/Outlook features, drop a note in the comments! TAB should have a full review of the finished product once it’s released.

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