Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Confusion And Crashes, But Finally A Look At Open Office 3

There was lots of logjam on servers Tuesday, but we were able to download a cached copy of 3 build 9358 via Google, after the OpenOffice servers crashed. The public relations firm handling press confirmed that build 9358, which is RC 4, released last week, was renamed as the final version. With that knowledge, we installed and took a look at this latest release.

In summary, it looks as if Open Office is continuing on its path as the would-be Microsoft Office killer.

If there ever was a time for Open Office to transition from being the darling office suite of open-source fans to a standard in corporate IT deployment, now is it. Economic belt-tightening will force IT departments and solution providers to weigh free, open-source applications as viable options to commercial products. Open-source software like Open Office will be good choices, provided that these offerings do not require a lot of IT staff time for deployment, configuration and maintenance.

Some initial observations about 3.0 final release:

The interface is blissfully simple, emulating Microsoft Office 2000. It's a good counter to Microsoft's 2007 ribbon interface, which buries a lot of the formerly easily accessible toolbar functions. The ribbon interface was not a good addition for Office and just results in frustration looking for commands. Ribbons should be reserved for 5-year-old girls and Olympic synchronized swimmers. 3.0 Writer has a remarkably improved Spell Check. However, there still does not seem to be any grammatical checker. Writer can also open Word 2007 .docx documents.

In fact, we were able to work with Access and PowerPoint files created in Office 2007 as well. Simple Excel spreadsheets also converted over, but a 25-page spreadsheet created in Excel with some complex calculations and macros did not perform optimally in Calc. There were some problems with some of the macros being enabled.

Overall, though 3 looks like the best version yet.

Posted by Samara Lynn at 4:41 PM

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