The next major release of Open Office is now publicly available for testing and features some interesting new enhancements and improved compatibility with Microsoft Office. Of particular note is the fact that it is now able to run on Mac OS without the need for X11 therefore meaning it now behaves like any other Aqua application. Equally important is the fact that Open Office now works with Microsoft Office 2007 and 2008 documents.
Other exciting improvements include a solver component which allows solving optimization problems where the optimum value of a particular spreadsheet cell has to be calculated, chart enhancements, better sharing options for spreadsheets, some new and updated icons and enhanced editing features in Writer to make tracking changes much easier to follow. The developers behind Open Office have also introduced a new Start Centre which they claim will make launching components from the suite much easier:
The most immediately visible change to OpenOffice.org 3.0 is the new “Start Centre”, new fresh-looking icons, and a new zoom control in the status bar. A closer look shows that 3.0 has a myriad of new features. Notable Calc improvements include a new solver component; support for spreadsheet collaboration through workbook sharing; and an increase to 1024 columns per sheet. Writer has an improved notes feature and displays of multiple pages while editing. There are numerous Chart enhancements, and an improved crop feature in Draw and Impress.
Note that because this is still a beta version, you may experience some bugs or difficulties but for me, this is certainly the most exciting Open Office yet and with ability to work with MS Office 2007 and 2008 now added, surely even more users are going to wonder why they should bother coughing up hundreds of dollars for Microsoft Office.