The free office suite OpenOffice is now offering a beta of version 3.0 for testing and it’s easier than ever for Mac owners to start using it right away. Why would you use OpenOffice when Google Docs is so easy? Some times it’s nice to have a more robust, desktop toolset than Google Docs offers. The new OpenOffice could fill that need nicely.

With strong looking support for importing and exporting even the newest Microsoft document formats, OpenOffice is easy to try out. Mac users no longer have to run the X11 program in order to use the suite.

The feature list for the new version is here and you can download 3.0 beta here.

OpenOffice is a strong supporter of internationally developed open data standards. Its software has always been a little too hard to use, despite the organization’s wonderful intentions. The new version is a lot smoother than previous ones. It includes support for .docx, .xlsx, .pptx files. I’ll be trying out the new OpenOffice on the desktop for a few days, just using Google Docs when I want to collaborate. One of many free OpenOffice extensions will even let me synch OO with my Google Docs account. Nice!

See also NeoOffice, the legacy solution for OpenOffice on the Mac.

Below, OO presentation editor, just one of many document types you can edit in OO.