August 12, 2005 11:32 AM PDT

StarOffice 8 release date slips

Sun Microsystems is now planning to release its next version of StarOffice in September, two months later than originally planned.

In May, Sun said that StarOffice 8, which has been in beta since February, would debut in July. But Simon Schouten, the U.K. desktop sales manager for Sun, said Friday that StarOffice 8 will be released Sept. 12, during the company's quarterly product launch event.

The date was changed to allow Sun to launch new versions of other desktop products on the same date, Schouten said. The other products include Java Desktop System, Tarantella and Sun Ray.

"Quite simply, there's a load of other stuff happening around the desktop portfolio, so the company decided that they'd rather do a September StarOffice launch," he said.

ZDNet UK learned from sources close to Sun that the company planned to start producing StarOffice 8 CDs on June 3, but later pulled back from this date. Sun later released a second internal beta, suggesting that there may have been bugs in the initial version of StarOffice, the source said.

Sun's Schouten denied that software bugs caused the delay in the release date and said it was purely a "marketing decision."

However, OpenOffice.org, the open-source office productivity application on which StarOffice is based, has also been delayed for just this reason.

John McCreesh, a marketing contact for OpenOffice.org, said Friday that OpenOffice.org 2.0 was held back for two reasons: to give developers time to fix bugs in the OpenOffice.org 2.0 beta and to give them time to make the product fully compatible with the OpenDocument format, which was approved by the OASIS standards group in May.

"The beta test version had over 1 million downloads. We've received huge amounts of feedback, which means there is more stuff to fix," McCreesh said.

Michael Meeks, a developer on OpenOffice.org, the open-source office productivity application on which StarOffice is based, said that version 2.0 of his company's application is likely to be available "shortly after" the StarOffice release.

A second beta of OpenOffice.org 2.0, which will include the bugs fixed since the original beta release in February, is due out in early August, according to a posting on the OpenOffice.org mailing list. Meeks confirmed that the second beta will be released soon.

Meeks was disappointed by the change in the release date, particularly as the last major version of OpenOffice.org was released almost two years ago. "It's pretty pathetic," he said. "A lot of the features that were done in the first six months could have been out there already."

Meeks called for developers to switch to a more regular release cycle. "We badly need to change to a six-month release schedule, regardless of features," he said.

Ingrid Marson of ZDNet UK reported from London.

 

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