Google and Sun are to make StarOffice apps available to Google users.

The decision will be part of a larger technology partnership between Sun and Google that will build a network to provide Web-based apps, in competition with Microsoft.

A joint conference between the two giants and their CEOs is taking place later today in California where the news will be officially released.

Company representatives have been tight-lipped, causing rampant speculation - most of it of the usual kill-Microsoft kind. Microsoft has made no bones about its aim to unseat Google as the leading search-engine company. Sun, too, sees Microsoft as one of its chief rivals in the software market, and has been having trouble getting widespread adoption of its software portfolio, including its answer of Microsoft Office - StarOffice.

The company has just released a new version of StarOffice that includes better inter-operation with Microsoft Office.

Sun also believes it has momentum for StarOffice. In particular, a recent decision by the US state of Massachusetts will see its government agencies move to open office file formats - which Microsoft Office currently do not support.

A deal between Google and Sun could give Google the technology it needs to rival Microsoft in providing applications as services, while giving Sun an edge in the applications business.

We will only find out later today.