Home OpenOffice: An Early Look at OpenOffice 3 RC1

OpenOffice: An Early Look at OpenOffice 3 RC1

OpenOffice, which, according to our latest poll, is one of the most popular word processors among our readers, just announced the first release candidate for OpenOffice 3. This is the first major release of OpenOffice since 2005. Most of the updates are a lot more subtle than Microsoft’s switch to the Ribbon interface in Office 2007, but the team has added a lot of new functionality and user interface enhancements to the OpenOffice suite that make this a worthwhile release for those who already use OpenOffice.

In its early days, OpenOffice (and Sun’s StarOffice before it) was basically a clone of Microsoft Office, but now that Office 2007 has introduced the Ribbon bar, the look and feel of OpenOffice has remained true to the original. In this new version, OpenOffice has modernized the user interface a bit, but overall, there are no major changes to the interface and users of version 2 should feel right at home in this new release.

New Features

Among the new features is a re-designed commenting function, which now displays comments from different editors with colored backgrounds. Also new in this version is the ability to view two pages of a document side-by-side, which, given the size of a lot of modern screens, is a welcome addition.

Other new features include a zoom function in the status bar for both the spreadsheet and word processing applications, the ability to create larger spreadsheets, and a presenter mode in Impress.

OpenOffice can open and write documents in the OpenDocument format. It can also read Microsoft Office 2007 files, but it does not have the ability to write them.

More Love for Mac Users

For Mac users, the new version also brings some welcome updates. Most importantly, the new version does not rely on X11 anymore, but finally uses the native graphics libraries of OSX and adheres to Apple’s HCI guidelines.

It’s Not Office 2007

We have been long-time users of Microsoft’s Office 2007 on the PC now, and as much as we love open-source software and open standards, going back to OpenOffice feels a bit like a trip back in time. If you are still using a older version of Office, you will probably feel right back at home in OpenOffice 3, but we do not see a lot of Office 2007 users go back to OpenOffice.

The Ribbon bar in Office 2007 represents a major productivity enhancement and having to search your way through long drop-down menus again just feels slow and old-fashioned at this point.

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