The latest version of Open Office, released today, has been in development for the past three years. As one of the most popular open source competitors to Microsoft Office, the release has been anticipated for some time (the launch even warranted a party!).
Open Office comprises of several applications: a word processor (Writer), spreadsheet (Calc), presentation package (Impress), drawing app (Draw), and database tools (Base).
Some of the features heralded in the new release include:
- A new splash screen upon launch (see above)
- The ability to import Microsoft Office (.doc, .ppt, .xls) and Office 2007/Office 2008 for Mac (.docx, .xlsx, .pptx) files (though it still isn’t possible to save to these formats)
- Support for sharing Excel workbooks
- Support for Excel sheets with up to 1024 columns
- A solver component for solving optimization problems
- Better polished crop and drawing tools
- The display of multiple Writer pages while editing
- Inclusion of Office commenting / change tracking in the document margin
- Some support for Visual Basic macros (a feature dropped by the Microsoft Office team)
- Enhanced support for PDF exporting, including password protection
- Support for Open Office extensions, allowing further features to be created by developers (similar to Firefox)
- No more reliance on X11
Open Office 3.0 is completely free to download and try out. If you are struggling with the Open Office site being overwhelmed with requests for the new software, it’s worth trying this mirror. Installation is far simpler than in previous versions and you can be up and running in a few minutes.
Let us know whether you’ll be switching from Microsoft Office!