OpenOffice.org announced that the final release of download--with versions for the Windows, Linux and Solaris operating systems.of the software is available for free
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The 1.1 update includes a number of improvements to address some of the most common complaints from early adopters, said Sam Hiser, co-leader of the marketing project for OpenOffice.org. Structural changes mean that documents load significantly faster than in the original version, and tweaks to the user interface make it easier to find the right tools.
The new version also includes built-in support for translating documents into Adobe Systems' PDF (), which can be read by any PC equipped with Adobe's free, widespread Reader software. OpenOffice can already handle the vast majority of document formats, including those generated by Microsoft applications, but PDF export will add an extra level of interchange, Hiser said.
"If you really want to make sure everyone you're collaborating with can read something, PDF is really useful, and it's a very efficient and secure format," he said.
Microsoft is set to release the next version of Office----in a few weeks. The software emphasizes new (Extensible Markup Language) that help tie applications into back-end computing systems.
Hiser said OpenOffice stacks up well in that regard. "We're several years ahead on XML. It's a native, default file format for us...and the open-source side is very competitive on integration," he said.
But Michael Gartenberg, an analyst for Jupiter Research, said the wealth of ready-made integration and add-on tools that will surround Office 2003 will help make it a compelling upgrade for businesses. OpenOffice won't pose a significant threat to Microsoft, he said--at least not until it can guarantee 100 percent compatibility with existing document formats.
"Whatever business interest there is (in OpenOffice) is mostly as a negotiating tool, when they're talking with Microsoft about," Gartenberg said. "The question is: Will any of them actually go this route? Can they make it work?"
Hiser said it's likely that there will be one or two smaller revisions of OpenOffice over the next year, as the development team finalizes specifications for version 2.0, which will introduce a new architecture. "I think 2.0 is really when we start to become a household word," he said.