Programmers released version 2 of OpenOffice.org on Thursday, Oct. 20. It’s a major overhaul to the free open-source software suite that has become a serious rival to Microsoft Office.
Nearly 50 million copies of OpenOffice have been downloaded, according to CNet News.com in “OpenOffice celebrates turning 2.0” by Stephen Shankland. One person commented, “I use OO since spring 2003 (V1.3). (YES this is a MS-Office FREE company!) We work for Volkswagen, Porsche and their suppliers. In the last 2.5 years I sent hundreds of DOC XLS PPT PDF files, that all were created in OO and I never ever had a problem. I only can recommend OO!!!”
OpenOffice.org uses the standardized OpenDocument format — not supported by Microsoft Office — that the State of Massachusetts has decided to use exclusively.
OpenOffice 2.0 can now open even password-protected MS Office files as well as import WordPerfect files, and documents can include digital signatures for authentication. You can work in a multipane view in OpenOffice 2.0 that separates tool and work areas, and you can customize the toolbar. OpenOffice.org now also includes the Java-based HSQLDB database to provide an alternative to Microsoft Access.
For Mac users, there are two different projects aiming to port OpenOffice.org to Mac OS X: the OpenOffice.org team and the NeoOffice team.
NeoOffice/J version 1.1 uses a mixture of Carbon and Java to offer better integration with the Mac OS X environment — including support for rich text and image exchange using the Mac Clipboard or drag-and-drop functionality. But power-users will probably prefer the OpenOffice.org official version for Mac OS X, which still uses the X11 windowing system ontop of Mac OS X, but is more stable, looks exactly like versions on Windows and Linux, includes on-line help, and supports the OpenDocument format. Both are free, and you can safely install both versions side-by-side on the same computer and test them for yourself.
For an inside look at how OpenOffice.org version 2 evolved, see “OpenOffice.org 2.0: An Office Suite With No Horizons” — an interview by the Mad Penguin with OOo community manager, Louis Suarez-Potts. Here’s an excerpt:
OpenOffice.org the project has become enormous and enormously important to millions. The project numbers probably around 100 sub-projects catering to the needs of well over 250,000 registered members. Our downloads average over 400,000 per week, and that’s just from the official site. We support over 50 language projects. And every major Linux distributor is involved in the project, with companies like Novell, Red Hat, Mandriva, Propylon; organizations like Debian, and so on participating in building the code. I’m not even counting the hundreds of independent groups and individuals localizing and porting the source. And now, governments are getting into the act. I feel immensely proud and optimistic when governments like those of Brazil, Massachusetts, Vienna, and parts of the French administrations adopt Openoffice.org…
It seems to me that this is the way history will go: As OpenOffice.org becomes more widely adopted by governments wanting the ODF plus the functionality and flexibility of OpenOffice.org, and those who do business with them, managers will wonder, “Why should we buy Microsoft Office? It’s old. It’s got problems. It’s a security risk. Nothing new is happening there. Let’s use OpenOffice.org, At that point, and I think it will come sooner than later, history will have been written using OpenOffice.org.