Sun has delayed release of the Web-based version of its StarOffice software, and it is releasing source code for the suite so that developers can modify and customise the applications.

Sun had originally said it would release StarPortal, the Web edition of the suite, in the first half of this year. A company representative says it is still being tested and will not be delivered for several weeks.

Sun will release the StarOffice code under the GNU General Public License, a popular open-source licensing model. It will be available through the Source Project.

The site also serves as the coordination point for the code, the definition of file formats based on XML, and the definition of language-independent office application programming interfaces, Sun says.

StarOffice is a suite of productivity applications originally developed by Star Division of Germany. Sun acquired Star Division in August of 1999 and offers the software suite for free. It includes word processing tools, a spreadsheet, a database, graphics, and more.

The open-source version will be based on StarOffice version 6, an upgrade to the current product that is still being developed. Sun said it expects to be able to release the source code 13 October. It will retain the copyright for the source code.

StarOffice 6 will feature a new architecture with separate applications and component services, which should make the programs easier to manipulate. The software suite is available currently for Solaris, Windows, and Linux, with a Macintosh version due by the end of the year.

Although StarOffice has attracted some attention, more focus has been aimed at StarPortal, a future version of the product that users will be able to access over the Internet. While StarOffice resides on a desktop, StarPortal can be hosted on a server by a business or an application service provider and accessed using a Web browser.