All posts tagged ‘Office’

File Under: Software & Tools

First Look: OpenOffice 3.0 Is a Free Replacement for MS Office on Mac

OpenOffice 3.0OpenOffice 3.0 is hot off the presses and now, for the first time, includes a native Mac OS X version of the popular, free, open source alternative to Microsoft Office. The new release also has the ability to open documents saved in Microsoft’s new office standard format, OOXML.

With enough people clamoring for OpenOffice 3.0 that the site’s server temporarily melted down, you’d expect the new release would have some impressive improvements over its predecessor. The stability and performance tweaks are there, especially in the Windows and Linux versions, but most of them aren’t the flashy sort of features that convince people to upgrade.

Rather, it’s the improvements like support for OOXML documents and the native Mac code that no doubt are causing the rush to upgrade. Previous versions of OpenOffice had trouble with Microsoft’s new .docx files, and even older versions of Microsoft Office can’t open the new document files without a special add-on converter that the user needs to download. The popular online word processor Google Docs can’t open them, either.

Although OOXML support is baked in, OpenOffice 3.0 continues to default to saving files in the Open Document Format (which has proved so popular with users that even Microsoft has grudgingly agreed to include support for it in upcoming releases of MS Office). Still, if you need to work with .docx or the other new default formats in MS Office 2007, OpenOffice 3.0 is the way to go.

This is also an important release for Mac users. Not only does OpenOffice now run on OS X without the need for the X11 environment, OpenOffice 3.0 contains a very useful feature Microsoft left out of its most recent Mac Office suite VBA scripting.

While OpenOffice doesn’t support everything VBA scripts can do in MS Office for Windows, for Mac users feeling stranded by the loss of VBA support in MS Office, OpenOffice makes a very capable replacement.

That said, OpenOffice’s native Mac version leaves much to be desired. While it does indeed run natively, it doesn’t leverage many built-in OS X tools, like the system-wide dictionary and thesaurus.

The Mac version also crashed three times in my brief testing. The Windows version suffered no such mishaps when working with the same files, so it would appear that the Mac version is not quite up to quality control standards of other versions.

Open Office Fail

While OpenOffice will no doubt satisfy many Mac users, we’re holding out for the 3.0 upgrade from NeoOffice, which builds on OpenOffice’s foundation, but takes advantage of many system-wide tools and uses native windows palettes and other user interface niceties. NeoOffice 3.0 is expected to arrive in January 2009.

Other noticeable changes in the new version of OpenOffice include some minor, but welcome, user interface enhancements, such as a much cleaner icon set, better zoom tools and a new start-up launcher that offers quick access to templates and previously opened documents. The Windows version even offers a shortcut icon which will take you directly to the launcher screen.

Office suite upgrades may not be sexiest of software releases, but for those of you who rely on them to get things done, OpenOffice 3.0 delivers the goods and makes a worthwhile upgrade. OpenOffice 3.0 works on almost every OS; you can grab a copy from the downloads page.

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File Under: Software & Tools

Demand For OpenOffice 3.0 Knocks Out Servers

OooLooking to grab a copy of the new OpenOffice version 3.0? So were we, in fact, we were planning a review of the new release later today, but overwhelming demand for the free office suite has brought the OpenOffice.org website crashing to its knees.

Call it a testament to the success of Microsoft alternatives, or perhaps proof that online office suites aren’t the way of the future. Whatever the case, if you were hoping to upgrade to OpenOffice 3.0 today, so far, you’re out of luck.

OpenOffice 3.0 has a number of new features including support for the OpenDocument Format (MS Office’s .docx files), multi-page editing, more language options, improved notes capabilities and some new wiki editing options.

The latest version is also the first major release to ship in a native Mac OS X flavor.

Apparently the demand was somewhat greater than what the OpenOffice.org site was ready to handle. We’ll be sure to let you know what OpenOffice 3.0 has to offer, just as soon as we can get our hands on a copy. In the mean time have a look at our coverage of the first beta, which was released earlier this year.

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File Under: Software & Tools

Zoho Share Simplifies Document Sharing

ZohoshareZoho, the web office suite, has added a new tool that allows you to share all your published documents in one easy-to-navigate location.

Zoho Share, as the new service is known, is looking to compete with the likes of Scribd, SlideShare and other document embedding services.

Zoho Share allows you to view your published documents, presentations, spreadsheets and PDFs in a nice Flash-based embeddable viewer. One very nice touch is the ability to define a license when you publish a document to Share. Visitors looking at your shared documents can then search for things with similar licenses in addition to more common search criteria.

Once your documents are up on Zoho Share, users can comment, rate, bookmark, email and embed them. Share also offers the ability to friend and chat with users whose documents you find interesting.

Other features include search, RSS feeds (of all published content), tags and more.

Although it isn’t live yet, Share will also feature some business tools that will allow companies use as a central document repository for published documents. The documents published within your organization will not be visible to the external world, but anyone with the company can view them.

If you’re a Zoho user all your publicly shared documents are already available at Zoho Share. And the company is promising to add the ability to publish the documents directly to Zoho Share from individual Zoho Applications.

Unlike Scribd and SlideShare, Zoho Share isn’t intended as a one-off service. However, if you’re already using Zoho to create and edit documents, Share makes for a nice icing on the cake, there’s no longer a need to use outside services if you want to embed your docs on another website.

Check out the video below for more details on how Zoho Share works.

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File Under: Software & Tools

Microsoft Retracts Blog Post Hinting at MS Office Alpha Release

Office2007Microsoft posted and then pulled a call for public alpha testers to help the company experiment with the next generation of Microsoft Office, Office 14.

The post, written by Hayley Rixon, of the Microsoft business intelligence team, appeared on Microsoft’s TechNet site yesterday, but was then taken down. Using the ever-handy Google cache tool, here’s what the post said:

The product team in Redmond are looking for customer and partner submissions now :-)

The Alpha process will begin in the November/December timeframe this year. When you submit, please identify as a PPS M&A candidate. The deadline for submissions is August 28th.

Since Microsoft has yanked the post down, it would seem that perhaps Office 14 isn’t quite ready for even an alpha test phase. Microsoft’s publicists were quick to say that “it is too early to discuss specific features, capabilities or timing” for the next version of Office.

So is an alpha test phase coming? It’s anyone’s guess, but it would seem that at least some within the Office dev team think it’s about time to crack open the lid and let us have a peak.

[via MSFN]

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File Under: Software & Tools

Rumor: Google Docs to Add Image Sharing Feature

gdocs.jpgLong time Google watcher, Google Operating System, claims that GDocs may soon see support for uploading and sharing image files. Poking around in the code reveals that there’s already an icon for a photo section, suggesting Google may be getting ready to perhaps integrate Picasa and Google Docs.

As it stands uploading an image file to Google Docs places the image inside a document, which is considerably less useful that having direct access to the image.

If Google does add image support to Google Docs, it’ll bring the company one step closer to the fabled “GDrive” which would allow users to store and share just about any type of content on the web.

Of course this is just a rumor and one commenter on the Google Operating System post suggests that image support (and the underlying code on the site) is just an undocumented hangover from the Writely days (Google Docs came out of the company’s acquisition of Writely).

For now it’s all speculation, but we’ll be sure to keep you updated.

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