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It’s here! I’ve been waiting for OpenOffice.org 3.0 Beta for what seems like forever. I was getting a little bit worried when it wasn’t released on April 30th like it was supposed to be, and the release date was never revised. Luckily it’s only rolling in about a week late.

If you were one of the people expecting a huge facelift in this version of OpenOffice.org I’m afraid you’ll be a little disappointed. For the most part the interface is the same as it was with the exception of some refreshed icons. Some people I talked to were keeping their fingers crossed that the next major release of OpenOffice.org would include an Office 2007-like Ribbon, but it’s still using the classic toolbar style. Hey, it can now run on Mac OS X without needing X11 which is a huge feat in itself.

What I’m really excited about is that OpenOffice.org 3.0 is able to open the Office 2007 document formats. I’ve been using Office 2007 for a little while, and trying to use OpenOffice.org was quite a pain since I have a relatively large number of files saved in the Office 2007 file format. This will help ease the transition for many users.

And there’s still more! Here’s a look at the new features included in OpenOffice.org 3.0 Beta:

  • Mac OS X Support
    OpenOffice.org is now able to run on Mac OS X without the need for X11. Thus, OpenOffice.org behaves like any other Aqua application. The cool thing is, while the market leading office suite vendor dropped VBA support and the Solver feature, OpenOffice.org recently introduced limited VBA support and includes a powerful Solver component.
  • ODF 1.2 Support
    OpenOffice.org 3.0 already supports the features of the upcoming version 1.2 of the ISO standard OpenDocument Format (ODF). ODF 1.2 includes a powerful formula language as well as a sophisticated metadata model based on the W3C standards RDF and OWL.
  • Microsoft Office 2007 Document Support
    OpenOffice.org 3.0 is now capable of opening files created with Microsoft Office 2007 or Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac OS X (.docx, .xlsx, .pptx, etc.).
  • Solver
    OpenOffice.org now also has a solver component which allows solving optimization problems where the optimum value of a particular spreadsheet cell has to be calculated based on constraints provided in other cells.
  • Chart Enhancements
  • Improved Crop Feature
  • Spreadsheet Collaboration
    This new feature in OpenOffice.org 3.0 allows collaborating on spreadsheets with multiple users. By sharing a spreadsheet; other users can easily add their data to the spreadsheet.
  • 1024 Columns Per Calc Sheet Instead of 256
  • Display Multiple Writer Pages While Editing
    With the new zoom slider, it is now easily possible to change the zoom factor. More importantly, OpenOffice.org Writer can now display multiple pages at the same time.
  • Improved Notes Feature in Writer
    With version 3.0, OpenOffice.org got an advanced notes features which displays notes on the side of the document. This makes notes a lot easier to read. In addition, notes from different users are displayed in different colours together with the editing date and time.
  • New Icons
  • Start Center
    When you open the application; you are now welcomed by a Start Center that allow you to chose which module you would like to use, or if you would prefer to open a document.