Sun has missed the original target date for its release of StarOffice 8. The company originally scheduled a July release for the next version of StarOffice, its productivity software suite that competes with Microsoft 's Office But the release is not yet available, and a Sun spokesman declined to reveal when it would be released.

However, UK press reports have claimed that Sun planned to make StarOffice 8 available on 12 September at one of its quarterly launches. The report was based on comments made by Simon Schouten, the UKdesktop sales manager for Sun.

According to Sun's spokesman, Schouten's remarks were inappropriate because he is not in a position to comment or have information about the release of StarOffice 8. However, the spokesman would not go so far as to say that Schouten's remarks were inaccurate.

In February, Sun previewed a beta release of StarOffice 8 at the Linuxworld Conference & Expo in Boston. StarOffice is based on the open-source productivity suite OpenOffice, the most stable version of which, OpenOffice 1.1.4, is currently available on the group's website. A beta version of the next full version of the suite, 2.0, also is available on the site.

Sun has made a big deal out of its customers switching from Microsoft Office to StarOffice, particularly outside of the US. But those tables were turned recently when the Central Scotland Police decided to remove StarOffice from about 400 PCs and install Office instead, citing lower maintenance costs and the need to interoperate more smoothly with other departments running Windows.

According to Sun's website, the vendor will address cross-platform compatibility issues with Microsoft applications in StarOffice 8. The next version of the suite will feature better usability, enhanced manageability and more compatibility with Microsoft Office, according to Sun.