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OpenOffice for Mac OS X delayed

Limited developer resources mean Mac OS X users will have to wait until 2006 for a native version of the open-source office package.

Mac users will have to wait a little longer for a version of OpenOffice that fully supports OS X, according to the developer group working on the translation.

In an update posted this week on the project site for the OS X version of OpenOffice, developers said they won't start working on a translation that supports the Mac operating system's Quartz/Aqua interface until version 2.0 of OpenOffice is finished.

That landmark is expected in early 2005, which means an OS X-native version of OpenOffice is unlikely to arrive before early in 2006. It had been expected by mid-2004.

OpenOffice is a free, open-source collection of basic office applications--word processor, spreadsheet, presentation program--based on Sun Microsystems' StarOffice. The software is available for the Windows and Linux operating systems and for several version of Unix. But Mac users have to make do with a lightly tweaked version of the Unix software that runs in OS X's X11 Unix-compatibility environment.

According to the update, the OS X translation has proven more complex and developer resources more limited than expected. As a result, project leaders have halted work on the OS X edition until version 2.0 of the main Windows/Linux version of OpenOffice is ready. OpenOffice developers are just nearing completion of the OpenOffice 1.1 update, with version 2.0 not expected until the first quarter of 2005.

"With limited testing and development resources, it is unwise to spend all of our efforts porting a "dead" API (application programming interface) that would not allow our work to be incorporated into newer versions of the software," the notice on the project site read. "All further development of the Quartz and Aqua tracks has been postponed until OpenOffice.org 2.0."

Recent versions of Corel's WordPerfect have not supported OS X, and Sun Microsystems doesn't make a Mac version of StarOffice, so an OS X edition of OpenOffice would be the first major alternative to Microsoft's Office product and mac maker Apple Computer's consumer-oriented AppleWorks.