OpenOffice.org 3 beta lands
Flex your fingers
Sun Microsystems yesterday released the first beta of OpenOffice.org 3 for Windows and Mac.
The open source rival to Microsoft Office now natively supports Mac OS X without the need to install the X11 module to run the suite first. The beta also includes full Vista and partial VBA support.
Sun will be hoping to lure customers away from Microsoft's software by bigging up features that enable migration from MS Office.
OpenOffice.org 3.0 will support the upcoming OpenDocument Format (ODF) 1.2 standard, and can also open files created with Microsoft’s Office 2007 and Office 2008 for Mac OS X.
Features built into the release include a "Start Centre", new icons, and a zoom control in the status bar. There are also tweaks to Writer, Chart, and Calc.
Sun plans to release OpenOffice.org 3.0 in September this year. The software is available from this page. ®
I hope they have worked on the utterly pathetic mail merge tools in OO. I hate Office but rolling out a few hundred names tags or address labels from a merge is a snap. Otherwise OO is a cool product in many respects.
Re: the price of MS Office
"If you've looked at retail prices for MS Office lately you may get some idea of why people are using OpenOffice.The price of Office does not reflect the amount of work put into it - otherwise MS's Applications division would not be making 60% profits"
Nowadays Office probably is too expensive compared to the work that should be going into it. The stuff of putting text on screen so that it appears exactly as it prints, of things like searching and, in the case of OS X, spell checking and grammar checking has long ago found its way into the operating systems. Free SQL-based database engines abound, and of the platforms supported by Office, at least OS X installs one by default. Similarly PowerPoint isn't doing much that the Windows Presentation Foundation and CoreGraphics can't do automatically. The kicker is almost certainly that Office can't use the OS facilities for many things because it needs to support the various hacks of previous versions that have found their way into the file formats. Word's typography is famously erratic, Excel deliberately duplicates bugs that may or may not have once existed in Lotus 1-2-3, and I'm sure the other components have similar cruft issues.
However, it would be wrong to ignore the way that the price of Office has fallen in recent years. The home-user version is now just about £100, whereas before the 2007/8 versions, home users had to pay more like £400. Even if business prices remain the same (and I don't have a clue), that presumably still means a sizeable overall reduction in the amount of money obtained by MS for Office sales?
@ hate MS Office, but...
Thing is, I tried opening a spreadsheet I originally created in Excel 2003 on my Excel 2008 install last week, and the workbook formulas in there went to shit - they just would not work. This could be MS bypassing some standard, it doesn't really matter. I originally created the spreadsheet used MS Office, and the person I'd ultimately be sending my amended version to was using MS Office. And MS Office couldn't handle what was going on. What use is that? Should I ask my suppliers and my customers not to downgrade their software too?
But wait! There's more... "Save As..." Excel 2003 (.xls) format from Excel 2008 (.xlsx) , you know, to ensure collaboration and interoperability between office mates with upgrades versions has worked correctly/well exactly twice of eight or so attempts. And don't even get me started with PowerPointless. Need to take a mid-morning break? Open a '03 presentation with '08, grab a cup of joe, smoke a fag, graze back through the cube farm, and still have time to check El Reg for the latest in breeding habits of highly talented hotel hieresses.