OpenOffice 3.0 beta arrives

Oooh, it's IT Blogwatch: in which 3.0 breaks cover, to delight and frustrate in equal measure. Not to mention two new entries for the Uxbridge English Dictionary...

Peter Cohen reports:

The Community has announced the public beta release of 3.0, a new version of the free office productivity software suite for various platforms including Mac OS X ... comprises word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, graphics and database software tools. It also reads and writes to Microsoft Office formats, and will support the OpenDocument Format (ODF) 1.2 standard. was developed through the collaboration of Sun Microsystems and thousands of open source software developers, and there are no license fees — it’s been released under the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) license ... The developers have also incorporated partial Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) support — something that Microsoft has removed in Office 2008. more

Kelly Fiveash adds:

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. 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. more

Brad Linder looks the other way: 3.0 is due out in September. But if you just can't wait that long, today the developers released a beta of the open source office suite ... while we wouldn't recommend replacing the software you use to balance your companies books with a public beta, you can just check it out if you're an office suite geek looking for a rush. We won't judge ... [but] keep in mind, this is beta software. So while it will probably work properly 99% of the time, don't blame us if it crashes your system or goes crazy and starts messing up the formatting of that manuscript you've been working on for the last 10 years. In other words, remember to backup your documents, and think twice about using 3.0 beta to create or edit really important files. more

Sun's Joost Andrae is joost in time: [You're fired -Ed.] 3.0 Beta (build BEA300_m2) has been released. If you find severe issues within this build please file them to's bug tracking system IssueTracker. For US English installation files please use the following link Localized builds and Language Packs can be downloaded from one of the mirror servers listed at 3.0 Beta files are within the ../extended/3.0.0beta directory. more

But Scott Gilbertson notes an oint in the flyment: [Are you still here? -Ed.]

Unfortunately the new OS X version was noticeably slower than NeoOffice, a Mac-specific OpenOffice offshoot, and most of the extensions I tried to install wouldn’t work ... Other changes include a “Start Center”, some new, more legible icons, and a zoom control in the status bar. On the whole the beta doesn’t look much different than previous versions, but each of OpenOffice’s apps have received some welcome new changes features like improved PDF creation throughout and a much better Notes tool in Writer, the OpenOffice word processor. The Chart tool has been revamped as well with some slick new graphical options ... The other big news in this release is that OpenOffice can now handle the OOXML format — Microsoft’s default document format for Office 2007 and Office 2008 for Mac OS X — making it a viable choice for those that need OOXML document support. more

However, icknay celebrates:

For just a second, I'd like to appreciate how freaking awesome it is that GPL app like Open Office exists. Sure it has problems, but it's also an incredibly hard space to work in. The Microsoft monopoly is based very much on the office formats, and the dedication of Sun and the Open Office team to build this complex thing is creating all sorts of freedom for the rest of us. Microsoft knows this, and that's why they expended so much effort trying to mess up the formats ... but it's not working, here we have a GPL tool that reads the newest Microsoft format ... I suspect Open Office is creating more freedom and competition than Firefox. Writing a browser, strangely, is not that hard. I can think of ten or so browser projects, but only a few office suites. more

Meanwhile, Eric Lai offers this:

Anyone with a .edu e-mail address, whether they are a current student or not, can buy Microsoft Office Ultimate for $60, or 91% off until May 16 ... For a company that is supposedly so tough on piracy and intent on enforcing its complicated, confusing licensing rules, I found [this] interesting ... The Web site to purchase Office Ultimate at a discount is called "The Ultimate Steal" ... Coincidentally - or perhaps not - the beta of 3.0 was released on the Web yesterday. more

And finally...

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Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/adviser/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and spam. A 21 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. You can follow him on Twitter, pretend to be Richi's friend on Facebook, or just use boring old email:

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