On October 13th, the eagerly-anticipated version 3.0 of the free OpenOffice.org Productivity Suite was released. Finally, 3 days later, the website is back up - they needed to take down all but the download links from their front page due to the incredible demand.
For those of you who haven't used or heard of OpenOffice.org already, it is a productivity suite that is often compared favorably against Microsoft's Office suite. It offers compatibility with the Office file formats, which is important to many users, especially business users, who deal with others sending or expecting documents in these formats. Perhaps more importantly, it uses XML-based open standards for its native file format, OpenDocument, which are unencumbered by complex or confusing licensing schemes, patents that lead to legal liability concerns, or closed standards which could leave old files inaccessible by newer software or competing applications.
For most people and many businesses, OpenOffice.org will be an out-of-the-box solution for their productivity needs, and an easy alternative or replacement for the more cumbersome and costly Microsoft Office. For businesses that use tight integration and automation between Office and other applications, an evaluation should be conducted to determine the full range of issues to be addressed.
- OpenOffice.org provides everything most people need in an office productivity suite. It is stable, reliable, and robust, built up over twenty years' development. Unlike its major competitor, it was designed from the start as a single piece of software, which makes for higher quality software and a more consistent user experience. It is actively developed, with several releases every year. The main components of the OpenOffice.org Suite are the Writer wordprocessor (screenshot); the Calc spreadsheet (screenshot); Impress for presentations (screenshot); Draw for graphics (screenshot); and the Base database (screenshot).
- OpenOffice.org is both easy to use and easy to migrate to, for both experienced and beginners alike. It has a familiar user interface, and is able to read and write the vast majority of legacy file formats (including common Microsoft Office formats). It is supported in over seventy languages, with active support both Community based (free) and from commercial organizations (paid-for).
- OpenOffice.org is released under an open-source licence (the LGPL), which means it may be used free of any licence fees, for any purpose: private, governmental, commercial, etc. Once acquired (either as a free download or as a CD) it may be installed on an unlimited number of computers, and may be copied and distributed without restriction. OpenOffice.org supports extensions, allowing users to add on extra functions easily from an extensions repository. This is a key differentiator from the competition.