January 28th, 2011


OpenOffice 3.3: still stuck in 'compatibility mode'

The disappointing thing about the OpenOffice.org suite (to give it its correct and non-trademark-infringing name) is how small its ambitions have been. Subsequent releases have done nothing but emulate Microsoft Office features and interfaces; there's been no vision to say 'what could an office suite be that Office doesn't deliver already?' - it's just been a very sincere form of flattery. Love the ribbon or hate it, at least Microsoft Office 2007 and 2010 have taken a radical new approach to presenting features (although, please for the love of Murphy, could we have Excel spreadsheets opening in their own windows again? please? pretty please, with sprinkles on?)

Now OpenOffice 3.3 is out (missing its planned release date of 2010 after 10 release candidates and being pipped at the post by the newly-formed LibreOffice); should you be using it? See my review on ZDNet UK for all the details, but if you want to skip to the punchline...

This is a welcome update, but it's definitely a point release: unless you're looking for an alternative to Microsoft Office on financial or philosophical grounds, 3.3 may not be the version to make you switch.