As part of a campaign to equip students, researchers and educators worldwide with access to open source technology, Sun Microsystems has donated $12 billion under the StarOffice 6.0 Donation Licensing Program.
More than $100 million will be spent in Australia benefiting more than five million students, researchers and educators, according to Sun Microsystems Australia managing director, Jim Hassell.
Hassell said money being consumed by "expensive desktop licences" can be redirected to more valuable education and research activities.
"Achieving lower student-to-teacher ratios, or even improved networking, Internet access, or developing good online learning content has got to be more appealing than handing over valuable budgets for software that is now available free," he said.
"While schools using Microsoft Office have been locked into stringent licensing policies and limited user access, Sun's global donation initiative is tasked with providing as many students and teachers as possible a choice in technology."
StarOffice 6.0 offers word processing, spreadsheet, presentation graphics, image editing and drawing programs.
Under the program, users will also be able to access a free online StarOffice tutorial and educators will also gain access to a set of online resources such as lesson plans, training guides and professional development classroom tools.
Eligible institutions include: primary and secondary schools; universities, graduate schools and community colleges; libraries; teaching hospitals; museums; and non-profit research organisations.
The program consists of three different levels of user agreements. There is a small, one-off cost to cover shipping, media and manual. The different levels of user agreement and associated establishment costs are as follows.
1.. Institutional Internal Use, granting institutions use of StarOffice on any machines they own, operate or maintain control over (Once off final cost: AUD$138.50).
2.. Institutional Distribution to End Users, granting institutions the right to replicate and distribute StarOffice to their constituents for personal use at the institution and at home via CDs, pre-installing onlaptops and desktops, and making it available on authenticated, non-public download sites ( One-off final cost: $183) 3.. Large Scale Distributions, granting large centralised organisations (such as Ministries of Education, Federal, State and Regional agencies and Boards of Education) the ability to centrally manage the replications and redistribution of StarOffice and the rights to offer to their constituents the ability to use StarOffice for personal use at home (One-off final cost:
Early this year, Sun made donations under the program, to the Ministries of Education in the People's Republic of China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Chile, valued at more than $US5.7 billion and reaching more than 200 million students. Last month, Sun also embarked on its next wave of donations in Europe, which reached an additional 18 million students, with planned donations in Africa for the near future.