A version of the open source productivity suite OpenOffice.org version 3.0 is now out in a release candidate offering. While the most recent stable version is recommended for primary use at this point, and the release candidate is primarily for testing, some web workers who use this suite as a Microsoft alternative may want to try this pre-release version out.
I’m starting to use it for testing purposes, and have appreciated the new document conversion features and suport. An open source suite should reach out to every document format, and do so easily. You can get the test suite for Windows, Linux, Solaris, or Mac OS X for free, and there are release notes avaiable here.
Over on the OStatic blog, Kristin has a good post about what’s under the hood in the new version. As she notes, the most obvious changes are to the user interface, which is cleaner and makes things faster. There is also now a document conversion wizard, which will convert .docx files into OpenDocument formatting.
The suite’s spreadsheet previously offered only 256 columns, but offers 1,024 in the new version. Names for spreadhseets can also now contain almost any character, while previously only letters, digits, underscores and spaces worked. There are also many additions to OpenOffice’s database.
Check out OStatic’s early review of the Linux version (most of the new features apply to versions for all platforms), and if you’re unfamiliar with this suite, there are some good, free visual tutorials online, cited here.