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Sun Microsystems to challenge Microsoft’s hold on desktop apps

New York — Sun Microsystems Inc. intends to transform the way everyday computer users do their word processing, spreadsheet operations and business presentations. But a not-so-small software rival stands directly in Sun's path: Microsoft Corp. — Sun Microsystems Inc. intends to transform the way everyday computer users do their word processing, spreadsheet operations and business presentations. But a not-so-small software rival stands directly in Sun's path: Microsoft Corp.

— Sun Microsystems Inc. intends to transform the way everyday computer users do their word processing, spreadsheet operations and business presentations. But a not-so-small software rival stands directly in Sun’s path: Microsoft Corp.

In the company’s latest challenge to Microsoft’s dominance of computer desktop software, Sun Microsystems disclosed Tuesday it bought a small maker of office productivity programs and intends to distribute the applications for free over the Internet, to anyone with a Web browser, so users don’t have to load bulky and expensive programs directly onto their computer desktop.

Palo Alto, Calif.-based Sun did not disclose the terms of its new acquisition, Star Division Corp., a privately held software company.