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StarOffice makes strong inroads in India
A Correspondent in Bangalore | September 04, 2003 16:58 IST
In less than a year since its official launch, StarOffice 6.0 software, the office suite from Sun Microsystems has had a number of corporates, banks and government departments switch to it from Microsoft office for the cost savings that it offers.
StarOffice is the equivalent of Microsoft's Office and runs across multiple platforms like Linux, Solaris and Windows. The full-featured office suite is available in 10 languages for day-to-day tasks, such as creating documents, spreadsheets and presentations on the Linux, Solaris and Windows platforms. Almost all the features of Microsoft office are available in this product. StarOffice 6.0 software also works transparently with a variety of file formats, enabling users familiar with other office suites, such as Microsoft Office, to open, modify, and share files.
Leading banks like HDFC Bank, business process outsourcing firms like ICICI One Source, new economy companies like Apnaloan, corporations like J K Corp, government organisations like Karnataka Public Works Department, Department of IT-Karnataka, select government schools and colleges and also defence organisations have adopted StarOffice.
By making the change to StarOffice and OpenOffice from Microsoft Office, HDFC bank is estimated to have saved a minimum of Rs.4.46 crore (Rs 44.6 million), apart from the savings on corporate licencing fees. HDFC uses over 3500 PCs.
Three months ago, Apnaloan began shifting its users to StarOffice and brought down their costs by about 50-60 percent vis-�-vis Microsoft Office.
"Over the next few months, we plan to deploy Linux on all our desktops and shift to a mix of StarOffice and OpenOffice. This will save the organisation 70-80 percent of the cost of the operating system," says Parag Patankar, co-founder and CIO, Apnaloan.
Sun Microsystems which owns the StarOffice suite says that the government, the biggest spender on IT in India, is also seriously considering switching over to StarOffice.
"The initial sales clearly indicate that a pent-up demand exists among consumers for a quality, low-cost, multi-platform office productivity suite such as StarOffice 6.0 software. StarOffice delivers excellent value to the individual, family or small business seeking an alternative to more expensive proprietary office productivity suites," says Kia-Chiang Ng, director mid-market segment, Sun Microsystems, South Asia.
StarOffice 6.0 software customers are expected to see savings of 50 to 75 percent in licensing costs in comparison to proprietary office productivity suites like Microsoft which have restrictive licensing policies.
"StarOffice's low cost of licensing is definitely an advantage over competition. It is especially relevant for our administrative and support staff who never used features in Microsoft which we would have to license as a part of the MS Office," says Jacob Joseph, general manager, Methodex Systems Limited.
To create greater awareness about StarOffice as a quality yet cheaper alternative to Microsoft Office, Sun Microsystems has signed up Ingram Micro as their master distributor and has been running various campaigns, seminars and workshops.
As a part of its thrust, Sun has also established a support centre for StarOffice users in Bangalore which provides ready technical support to Indian users.
The company is also aggressively marketing the suite in order to gain strategic proximity with existing and potential clients. As a part of this initiative, Sun Microsystems is running a large number of pilots across the country with various companies.
"In a scenario where enterprises are looking to bring down costs and increase productivity, StarOffice has emerged to be a viable option. In the last few months, StarOffice has gained substantial penetration into the Indian markets across segments like corporations, home users and government," says K P Unnikrishnan, country head, marketing, Sun Microsystems India.
"By using StarOffice, enterprises have realised that they can cut down on licenses to two-third of their present costs. India, one of the most price sensitive markets in the Asian region is expected to be a large potential market for StarOffice," he adds.
Based on customer requests, a number of personal computer makers in India have also started pre-installing the latest version of Sun's Open Standard software productivity suite on some of their machines. Globally, Sony, Everex Systems and Gateway are already bundling StarOffice software on selected desktop and laptops.
The StarOffice 6.0 software retail offering is priced at Rs 4,600 and is available online, through software retailers, hardware vendors, Sun account representatives and other channels. Educational institutions pay only for the cost of the CD-ROM and shipping.
Sun continues to support the availability of a free version of office productivity software through a no-charge download through the open source project at http://www.openoffice.org.