How long have we been using OpenOffice 2.x? 2.0 was released Oct 20, 2005. So over three years was 3.0 in the making. And just what comes with that three years in development? Here’s the list of major features:

  • Mac OS X support
  • ODF 1.2 support
  • Microsoft Office 2007 import filters
  • Solver
  • Chart enhancements
  • Improved crop feature in Draw and Impress
  • Spreadsheet collaboration through workbook sharing
  • 1024 columns per Calc Sheet (Instead of 256)
  • Display of multiple Writer pages while editing
  • Improved notes feature in Writer
  • New, fresh-looking icons
  • Start Center
  • Native tables in Impress
  • Enhanced XML support and updated XSLT-based filters

It’s an impressive list for sure. But what you really don’t see from a simple list is just how impressive some of these new features are. Sure the new Start Center looks better than the old one. Of course, I am not even sure why the developers are saying they “added” a Start Center. In OpenOffice 2.x if you issued the command openoffice a Start Center would open. So to me, saying the Start Center is a new feature is a bit of a stretch. But if you look beyond the cosmetic, you will see some really impressive work that has gone on.

Take for instance the first three bullets in the list above: OS X support, ODF 1.2 support, and Office 2007 import filters. That list alone would have made for a fairly solid major release. I can’t tell you how many of my Mac clients will rejoice that they no longer have to suffer through the hideous start times of NeoOffice now that they have a native port of OpenOffice. Add to that support for Office 2007 documents and ODF 1.2 support, and OpenOffice just became the most accessible office suite available.

But then you get into improved features like the new Notes. This is simply a work of genius in design and function. I don’t know about you, but I have always hated working with Notes in any office suite. But now, with OpenOffice 3, the idea of attaching notes to a document doesn’t seem so bad. It’s clean, it’s simple to follow, and so easy to use, a room of monkey’s could annotate Hamlet in much less time than they could before.

Of course, I am not even touching on the spreadsheet improvements. I’ve never been much of a numbers cruncher but I know that hard-core crunchers have been on their knees begging for a Solver in OpenOffice. Well, they can dust off their dockers and stand up proud because they have what they need.

OpenOffice 3 has brought to so many platforms an office suite that is, without a doubt, ready to kick Microsoft Office to the over-priced curb. I seriously can not see any reason to not migrate any company from Microsoft Office to OpenOffice.

I’ve been using OpenOffice since it’s early days of Star Office (back when they were owned by a small German company called Star Division.) This suite of office tools has come a long, long way since those early days. Now OpenOffice isn’t just a little player in a large market. Now OpenOffice is the dominant player in a much smaller market. With OpenOffice 3, Microsoft is surely seeing the end of days of their dominance. I said it a long, long time ago to a fellow colleague at Techrepublic and I will say it again: Look out Microsoft!