Two years after announcing a software-distribution partnership, Google Inc and Sun Microsystems Inc have clarified their tactics for jointly attacking Microsoft Corp and its ubiquitous Office software.
Over the weekend, Google began including Sun's StarOffice suite of word processing, spreadsheets and other workplace-oriented programs for free as part of the Google Pack download.
The download package is part of Google's efforts to expand beyond Web search and control more of users' computing experience online and offline. It already includes Firefox, the No. 2 Web browser behind Microsoft's Internet Explorer, and RealNetworks Inc's RealPlayer, a key rival to Microsoft's own media player.
By adding Sun's software, Google is giving a valuable endorsement to a server and software maker that saw demand for its products collapse after the dotcom bust and has struggled to return to sustained profitability ever since.
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.
StarOffice typically costs US$70 to download but is being distributed by Google for free. It has more features than OpenOffice and typically includes technical support from Sun, though the free Google version will not.
Both companies declined to comment on the financial arrangement for the deal.
Rich Green, Sun's executive vice president of software, said on Wednesday that Sun has also added Internet search capabilities to all of its StarOffice products. That will allow users, for example, to highlight terms in a word processing document and search immediately for those terms online -- through Google, of course.