Sun Microsystems this week announced it will release the source code for its StarOffice productivity suite, a move that will allow software developers to modify the product to suit their needs.
The code will be released under the GNU GPL (General Public Licence) open-source licensing model at http://www.openoffice.org, which will serve as the coordination point for the code, the definition of XML file formats, and the definition of language-independent APIs.
Sun's plan was described as "a significant initiative" but also as "schizophrenic benevolence" in a statement by Stacey Quandt, an analyst at US-based Giga Information Group.
"By opening up the code and control of StarOffice ... Sun lends credence to open-source software development in determining the future of a technology that competes against the interests of Microsoft and Corel," Quandt wrote.
She added, however, that Sun now has several licensing schemes and that the move to a GPL "leads to the question of potentially extending the GPL to the Java platform or the Solaris operating system."But giving a GPL to Java "would be counterintuitive to [Sun's] desire to control its development," and doing so with Solaris also poses issues for Sun, Quandt added.
A Sun representative also confirmed that a Web-based version of the software, StarPortal, is still being tested and will not ship for several weeks. Sun originally said it would ship in the first half of the year.
Sun plans to release the StarOffice 6 source code on October 13.