by CIO Staff

Google and Sun Team Up to Challenge Microsoft

Oct 05, 20052 mins
Enterprise Applications

Google Inc. and Sun Microsystems Inc. are expected to unveil a collaborative effort Tuesday that will bring StarOffice productivity applications to Google users, according to sources familiar with the companies’ plans.

The move is expected to be part of a larger technology initiative in which Sun will help Google build a network to provide Web-based applications that will enable the companies to compete with their common rival, Microsoft Corp.

Google and Sun are expected to hold a press conference in Mountain View, California, Tuesday morning where Google Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Eric Schmidt and Sun Chairman and CEO Scott McNealy will be on hand to unveil a partnership between the search giant and the computer systems vendor.

Company representatives have been extremely tight-lipped about what exactly will be announced, but industry sources have speculated that Google is interested in offering more Web-based applications to compete with Microsoft.

The Redmond, Washington-based software company has made no bones about its aim to unseat Google as the leading search-engine company. Microsoft executives also have said it will begin offering more services rather than packaged software in the next year.

Sun, too, sees Microsoft as one of its chief rivals in the software market, but has been having trouble garnering widespread adoption of its software portfolio, including its StarOffice productivity suite. The company just released a new version of StarOffice that includes features that allow Sun’s productivity suite, which is based on the open-source OpenOffice suite, to better interoperate with Microsoft Office.

Sun also believes it has momentum for StarOffice in a recent decision by the state of Massachusetts to move to open office file formats for documents created by the state’s government agencies. The state going forward plans to support the newly ratified Open Document Format for Office Applications, or OpenDocument, as the standard for its office documents. Suites that support OpenDocument include OpenOffice, StarOffice, KOffice and IBM Workplace. Microsoft Office does not support the file format.

A pairing of the two companies, then, could give Google the technology it needs to rival Microsoft in providing applications as services, while giving Sun an edge in the applications business as well.

By Elizabeth Montalbano, IDG News Service