Sun Microsystems announced Tuesday that its recently acquired Star Office productivity suite, which it offers for free from its Web site, has been downloaded over 250,000 times in the past week, not too shabby for a 65 MB download. Sun is attempting to change the way people use productivity software by offering their suite for free: The current office productivity champ, Microsoft Office 2000, sells for several hundred dollars and represents almost 50% of the company's revenues.

"In the first week and a half since we launched it we've had over a quarter of a million people download it for free, says Sun CEO Scott McNealy. "This is the way you change the computing model."

Sun's move is an interesting variation on the strategy Microsoft itself used to kill Netscape: Offer something that works, and offer it for free. Sun plans to release an Internet-based version of the suite that corporations and other users can use from any Web browser, so that the 65 MB download is unneeded. This would give users access to office productivity applications from virtually anywhere in the world.

"You \[will\] have access to all of your office productivity suite from a web site,'' McNealy said