Nine years after Sun Microsystems bought StarOffice, the resulting OpenOffice.org project is ready to roll out its 3.0 release. Enhanced format compatibility and features put it on par with Microsoft Office.
bought the little-known StarOffice productivity
suite in 1999, and soon thereafter released the product's code base as
open-source software, it was unclear how far the arguably quixotic initiative
might reach-and what damage it could possibly wreak on Microsoft's ironclad
grip on the office productivity market.
Now, nine years later, Sun is on the verge of a major 3.0 release of the
project that grew up around that code base, OpenOffice.org. While
OpenOffice.org hasn't achieved the same measure of mainstream adoption as its
ideological cousin, the Firefox Web browser, the freely available office suite has
helped advance the state of file format standardization, to the extent that
Microsoft first developed its own open file format and is now prepared to
include support for the ISO-standard
OpenDocument format in Office 2007.
I tested OpenOffice.org 3.0 in a near-final RC3 version, and was pleased
with the progress that the project has made toward improving format
compatibility and feature parity with Microsoft Office. I also tested a beta
release of StarOffice 9, which is the commercial version of OpenOffice.org for
which Sun offers support and intellectual property indemnification.
with previous versions of the suites, the extent to which OpenOf??Ãfice.org or
StarOffice can serve effec??Ãtively as a replacement to Microsoft Office will
depend on the features and documents you use in your orga??Ãnization. Since
OpenOffice.org is free to download and take for a spin, it's certainly worth
giving the suite a run in your environment to judge for yourself.