LibreOffice 3.4 Beta 1 Available, Oracle Unchains OpenOffice

April 15 brought some interesting developments in the office suite front. Oracle's press release announcing its intention of halting commercial interest in came hours before The Document Foundation announced the release of LibreOffice 3.4 Beta 1.

Several developers forked the project last year and formed The Document Foundation to further the office suite in an environment free from the threat of being allowed to wither and die as other Open Source projects acquired by Oracle. Oracle continued development on with remaining developers and released both a commercial version and a free version. Today, only a couple of months after its initial commercial release, Oracle announced that it would move to a purely community-based Open Source project. The only reason given was "the breadth of interest in free personal productivity applications and the rapid evolution of personal computing technologies." This might be interpreted to mean that the commercial offering didn't sell very well since most folks prefer the no-cost option. Oracle may not wish to invest further funding in a product that will not support itself. So, they just gave back to the Open Source community.

Edward Screven, Oracle's Chief Corporate Architect, further stated, "We intend to begin working immediately with community members to further the continued success of Open Office. Oracle will continue to strongly support the adoption of open standards-based document formats, such as the Open Document Format (ODF)."

The Document Foundation has had no comment to the news as of yet.

However, shortly after Oracle's news, The Document Foundation announced their next developmental release for the upcoming 3.4. The short announcement said, "The upcoming 3.4 will be the second major release of the LibreOffice project, and comes with many exciting new features. Please be aware that LibreOffice 3.4 beta1 is not yet ready for production use, you should continue to use LibreOffice 3.3.2 for that."

LibreOffice 3.4 Beta 1 received lots of bug fixes and a few new additions. Some include:

+ added navigation buttons to writer
+ Replaced unhide text button by icon buttons
+ Mouse wheel scrolls whole slides
+ Updated slide sorter icons
+ allow 'select as you type' aka 'quick selection'
+ new 'animated images' for Throbber controls
+ enable human icon theme
+ treat Excel number format 'General' as standard format in Calc
+ change the default sheet print option to "print entire sheet" in Calc
+ don't toggle the calc formula bar when activating and deactivating a chart in Calc
+ fix crash in Impress after printing
+ Allow unused master pages to be deleted in master pages control in Impress
+ enable full width by default for 'Default' style in Impress
+ make user paint settings persistent in Impress
+ autocomplete using the context's case in Writer
+ fixed crash with WriterWeb
+ fixed incorrect double line spacing saving in Writer
+ fixed the dropdown list box form fields in Writer
+ Full Changelog

LibreOffice 3.4 Beta 1 can be downloaded from Instructions for installation are at the wiki. 3.4 Beta was released a day earlier.

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