Rumours are circulating that "a number of large banks and a major telco" are actively evaluating Sun's new desktop suite, StarOffice 6.0, as an alternative to Microsoft Office XP.
Startled by recent price hikes and the re-jigged structure of Microsoft's Licensing 6.0, Ken Cross, Sun's national business product manager for StarOffice, said Microsoft has effectively opened the door for organisations to experiment with alternative desktop suites.
Cross said more than 100 evaluation copies of the new StarOffice 6.0 are currently being tested throughout corporate Australia.
Earlier this month, Telstra hinted that it had shelved plans for a massive Microsoft upgrade, 45,000 desktops in total, to take a long hard look at Sun's new software. StarOffice, once offered as a free download, costs around $100 a seat in its latest release. The cheapest upgrade version of MS Office retails for approximately $500.
However, it is not only the price factor that is enticing customers to convert. Elements of Microsoft's new licensing structure, Licensing 6.0, announced in August, have made customers anxious about being forced into upgrade cycles.
Companies may construct hybrid environments, whereby StarOffice and Linux desktop alternatives are installed for staff that utilise word processing, spreadsheets and e-mail, but have no use for the full functionality of XP.
At the same time, Sun's success is linked with how swiftly it can get its partner programs, rebates and incentives established. If Sun intends to gain momentum from the reseller channel it will have to look at increasing its distribution partner numbers, giving service providers the right to sell the product, and pricing incentives.