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Office Software for the Mac: Star Office

written by: William Springer•edited by: Michael Dougherty•updated: 4/10/2011

Star Office (now known as Oracle Open Office) is one of the top office suites for the mac. We tell you why.

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    Choosing an Office Suite

    When it comes to office software - word processing, presentations, spreadsheets, etc - Microsoft Office is definitely at the top of the heap. (Disclosure: I was a beta tester for Office 2007). The software is extremely mature, and is available for both Windows computers and Macs.

    That said, many people prefer an alternative, either because they dislike Microsoft's software or because they simply want something less expensive. One of the best alternatives is the free OpenOffice, which lead to the commercial Star Office (now called Oracle Open Office).

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    Can Star Office Be Installed on a Mac Computer?

    If you're reading this, you're probably looking for office software you can install on your Mac (although most of the top programs these days are available for both Mac and Windows). Can Star Office be installed on a mac computer? Well, of course it can! You can find Star Office for mac (now called Oracle Open Office) at Oracle's website.

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    History of Open Office

    The logo (open source) In 1999, StarOffice was acquired by Sun Microsystems; they released the source code online the next year as At the same time, Sun continued to develop StarOffice; StarOffice was based on OpenOffice, but contains additional code not licensed under the GPL. The free, open source version is generally referred to as to distinguish it from other versions.

    Open Office includes a word processor (Writer), a spreadsheet program (Calc), a presentation program (Impress), a drawing program (Draw), a database program (Base), and a formula generator (Math). Generally each program is compatible with the corresponding Microsoft Office program, so Writer can open and save Word files and Impress can do the same for Powerpoint files. It can also handle PDF documents, although importing them requires a free plugin.

    Star Office / Oracle Open Office contains everything found in Open Office, as well as additional fonts and templates, a different spell checker and thesaurus, a clip art gallary, and other items. Naturally, this additional functionality comes at a cost; the software traditionally cost $70, but the price (for the personal edition) has now been lowered to $50.

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    Which Software is Right for Me?

    Which software is best for you depends on your specific needs. Microsoft Word is the most widely known and used, which means that Microsoft Office 11 will probably give you the fewest support issues on your Macs, as most people will already be familiar with the software. has the best price tag (free) but is less polished than Microsoft Office, and your users may need training on how to use it; however, in some cases it actually offers smaller file sizes. Star Office falls in the middle: it still doesn't have quite the same functionality as Microsoft Office, but it's much cheaper and has more support available than the free version. Additionally, while you'll need to purchase separate versions of Microsoft Office for Windows and Mac, and the software is not available at all for Linux or Solaris, Open Office and Star Office will work on each of these platforms.