Google Distributing Sun Office Software for Free

As part of Google's efforts to expand beyond web search, the search-engine giant has begun including Sun Microsystems' StarOffice suite in its free Google Pack download. The move comes two years after the two companies first announced a somewhat vague software-distribution partnership intent on dislodging Microsoft's ubiquitous Office suite. StarOffice is Sun's commercial version of the freely distributed OpenOffice suite, which also was developed by Sun and has been downloaded about 100 million times; the product has more features than OpenOffice and normally costs $70, but will be available free of charge through Google, albeit without any technical support from Sun.

Rich Green, Sun's executive vice president of software, said Wednesday that Sun has also added Internet search capabilities to all of its StarOffice products. This will allow users, for example, to highlight terms in a word processing document and search immediately for those terms online - through Google, of course. "It's a paradigm shift," Green said in an interview. "It brings together office productivity, networking and search into one offering." Google said in a statement Wednesday that the company believes "users will benefit from access to a free, full-featured office suite for the desktop. And we've also always believed that users should have choice in their online and PC experience."

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