The proprietary office suite is based on the same code base as Open Office and was previously offered for $70.
Don Dodge, Director of Business Development for Microsoft’s Emerging Business Team not surprisingly went negative on the move, writing “What has changed? Star Office has been around for 8 years and has gained no traction.”
To answer Don’s question: credibility.
Google offering StarOffice is a massive credibility boost for the package. The benefits of desktop Microsoft Office alternatives have been promoted for years and although among niche communities they might have found some market share, nothing so far has come close to gaining traction against Microsoft.
General consumers have long since accepted packaged downloads from Google and for good reason; packages such as Picasa and Google Earth are quality offerings that have gained wide acceptance. StarOffice will now benefit from not only becoming a standard download as part of the Google Pack, but also due to the positive consumer sentiment given to most (if not all) downloadable products from Google. Expect StarOffice to have a bigger user base than OpenOffice within 12 months, and at least a measurable marketshare in a similar time frame. It probably wont be double figures, but it will make an impact.
There was no word from Google whether future editions of StarOffice would sync with Google Docs and Spreadsheets.