Less than a year since OpenOffice 3.0 was released to rave reviews last October, the next iteration of the popular productivity suite is now available. According to various reports, OpenOffice 3.1 is significantly snappier -- which squarely addresses one of the key complaints about its predecessors. Indeed, the performance boost is on top of gains already incorporated into OpenOffice 3.0 over earlier OpenOffice 2.x versions.The general consensus appears to be positive on the new release, which brings in many touted improvements in terms of its usability and user interface. For example, anti-aliasing support has finally been implemented, which allows for much smoother and more professional-looking graphs and charts. Live preview also means that rather than dotted lines, users will see a translucent image of the object when dragging objects within a document.
General speed improvements aside, the project team specifically addressed known performance bottlenecks in Calc, resulting in the spreadsheet application being "dramatically" faster. Other improvements in Calc range from tweaks such as the ability to rename sheets by double-clicking, a zoom slider, and the presence of formula hot hints. In addition, the rendering of on-screen objects in the Impress presentation application is improved, and the Write word processor now sports new collaboration functionality.
While there is no doubt that Microsoft's Office Suite remains the de facto productivity application for most organizations, the capabilities and usability of OpenOffice have improved in leaps and bounds. For those who are not aware, this open source office suite is also able to exchange documents with Microsoft Office 2007, a feature available since OpenOffice 3.0.
As when OpenOffice 3.0 came out in October last year, I would encourage everyone to at least give OpenOffice a spin. With the prolonged economic recession in progress, SMBs strapped for cash now have an added impetus to give this free productivity suite a try. I believe that they will be pleasantly surprised by its usability.
OpenOffice.org version 3.1 is cross-platform and available in multiple languages. You can download OpenOffice 3.1 here.
For more information about OpenOffice 3.1: