Portable version of OpenOffice.org unveiled

Latest edition of the open-source software includes a number of updates--but one analyst says that it's too big to be portable.

OpenOffice 2.0.1 now comes on a flash drive--but an analyst claims that at 144MB, the software's too bloated to be truly portable.

The latest version of Portable OpenOffice.org, an edition of the open-source office suite fits on a USB (universal serial bus) stick. It includes a number of updates, such as full support for Windows 2000 and launchers for each OpenOffice.org application.

Portable OpenOffice.org 2.0.1 includes all the applications available in OpenOffice.org 2.0.1 and takes up 144MB of storage space, compared with the 300MB of disk space required by the full version of the office suite.

Portable OpenOffice.org can be used to replace a laptop when traveling or as a back-up to applications on a PC, according to John Haller, who developed the application.

But 144MB is still too big, considering that many USB sticks only store 256MB, according to Gary Barnett, a research director at analyst firm Ovum.

"In my view it's too bloated to be genuinely portable," Barnett said. "I think there is definitely scope for a maximum 40MB packaging of OpenOffice, but it doesn't need to provide all of the features. It only needs to provide basic editing and viewing features to create documents and view other people's documents."

Barnett said that he would prefer a version of OpenOffice.org that could be accessed online, similar to Web word processor Writely, rather than relying on a USB stick that can easily be lost.

"Wherever I am in the world, I can spend a portion of my day connected to the Internet, so I would like to be able to access an online OpenOffice document store and an online OpenOffice application," he said.

Portable OpenOffice.org 2.0.1 can be downloaded from the project Web site.

Ingrid Marson of ZDNet UK reported from London.

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