OpenOffice.org and LibreOffice Release Candidates Duke It Out

Oracle-owned OpenOffice.org and independent LibreOffice are both nearing their freely available 3.3.0 versions and show their wares with recent release candidates. Commercial OpenOffice.org 3.3 was released by Oracle last month at a licensing fee starting at $49.95 for the Standard Edition, but has yet to release the freely downloadable version for home and small business use. That version has reached RC9, which is said to probably be the last development release before final. On the other side of town, LibreOffice has been releasing development versions as well with the latest being RC3 on January 13, which is rumored to be its last before final as well. LibreOffice has gained popular support probably primarily due to breaking from Oracle control and ownership while offering largely equal functionality.

OpenOffice.org 3.3 RC9 didn't introduce any new features this late in the game, but instead concentrated on bug fixes. OpenOffice.org 3.3 will bring some nice new features since the 3.2 stable branch. Some include new free fonts that will make it more compatible with Microsoft Office prepared documents, password protection for some formats that were previously wanting, increased Calc support for up to 1,048,576 rows and colored tabs, new common search box integrated into toolbar, improved print dialog appearance and added options, expanded dictionary support, redesigned thesaurus, and more options for changing case. SVG image format support will not be included until 3.4.

LibreOffice 3.3 RC3 was released on January 13. In an earlier interview a representative from The Document Foundation stated there would be very little divergence from OpenOffice.org their first release. New developments and features should begin appearing in 3.4. Instead, a lot of work has been going into the foundation and supporting infrastructure.

Charles H. Schulz, former OpenOffice.org contributor and current LibreOffice Steering Committee member, recently outlined some of these developments. The Document Foundation has joined the OpenDoc Society, who promotes free and open standards such as ODF. The LibreOffice Website has received a facelift. Final drafts of the LibreOffice Community Bylaws and TradeMark Policy have been posted. The Bylaws define the internal organization of The Document Foundation such as community contributions, Board obligations, and membership details. Some trademarked terms include The Document Foundation, TDF, LibreOffice and LibO. Work has begun on incorporating The Document Foundation. Plans to attend Open Source conferences such as FOSDEM and SCALE are being made. Finally, OOoAuthors had changed their name to ODFAuthors in preparation for including LibreOffice in manuals and documentation.

A recent poll on Tuxmachines.org found that 37% of respondents plan to switch to LibreOffice right away, 49% plan to at least test it, and only 5% plan to stay with their current office suite.

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