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November 2, 1999

Customers to Pilot Sun StarPortal From December

By CBR Staff Writer

By Siobhan Kennedy

Sun Microsystems Inc is set to release an early version of its StarPortal applications suite to about a dozen ISP, ASP and portal partners next month. Marcus Boerries, vice president and general manager of Sun’s Webtop Software group told ComputerWire that Sun will release the code for StarPortal to the partners and work with them to integrate the applications into their existing offerings ready to go live with the service in the first quarter of next year. The list will also include three enterprise customers who will opt the run the StarPortal applications for themselves, Boerries said.

Since the company acquired Germany’s Star Division at the beginning of September, Boerries said Sun has seen one million downloads of the client version of the application suite, Star Office, to customers as well as Sun distributing 500,000 copies of the CD in that two month timeframe. In addition, 700,000 versions of the suite have gone out via Sun’s PC OEM partners and via Linux distributors and resellers. Boerries wouldn’t say who the ISP and ASP partners were but reiterated Sun’s goal of trying to make as many partners sign up to use the software as a way of boosting sales of Sun’s servers. Whenever you run your infrastructure over the internet you’re going to need servers, he said, and our goal is to make every ISP, ASP and portal provider take this infrastructure.

As expected, Boerries said Sun would give away licenses to StarPortal for free. Sun expects to derive revenues from both server sales and ongoing support through its StarCare initiative which provides users with round the clock on-line and telephone support as well as implementation and integration services. He ruled out any question that Sun would offer the applications, which include word processing, spreadsheet, database and presentation software, on a hosted basis itself adding that Sun’s strategy will only be to partner with ISPs and ASPs and not to compete with them.

Boerries said there were no plans to discontinue the client version of the software when StarPortal becomes available. But he said that with the increasing availability of high-speed DSL services, customers will most likely opt for the web hosted version instead. At the same time, he said Sun was working with other application vendors, such as Siebel Systems Inc, to enable them to integrate their applications with StarPortal.

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