Sun Microsystems is considering the acquisition of Hamburg, Germany-based Star Division, according to German press reports. Star, which sells a thin-client office software suite, could become a subsidiary of Sun by early next month, according to the report, which characterizes the move as an attempt to compete against Microsoft office.
Fifteen-year-old Star hired Sun Microsystems co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim back in 1992, re-worked its software to run in low- memory footprints and on multiple platforms, and signed IBM Corp in 1996 to distribute the OS/2 version as its preferred office platform. Unfortunately for Star, IBM virtually abandoned OS/2 shortly afterwards in the face of competition from Microsoft Corp. Having re-worked its software for Java and the internet, Star fared little better with the deals it signed to run StarOffice on network computers with Sun and Oracle Corp’s Network Computer Inc (since renamed Liberate Technologies).
More recently, however, Star has adopted an open source policy for personal users in a bid to gain a larger share of the market, and has seen a new opportunity arise as internet hosted applications gain in popularity. Its latest version, StarOffice 5.1, runs on Windows, Solaris, Linux, and OS/2 and includes filters for interoperability with other file formats such as those created in MS Office, Framemaker, or WordPerfect. The company’s US base is in Fremont, California.
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