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First look: OpenOffice.org 3.0 beta a big step forward

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It has been almost three years since the release of OpenOffice.org 2.0. During that time we've seen community fragmentation and frustration resulting from Sun's heavy involvement with the office suite's development, and even a third-party online version that provides editing and collaboration features. Now, the open source office suite is back with a new 3.0 beta release, ushering in a handful of major enhancements, broader file format support, and a solid batch of evolutionary new features. Ars Technica takes the new beta for a spin to see if our productivity increases.

Enhancements have been made across the board to OpenOffice.org's various components. A new Solver component makes calculating dependent spreadsheet cells much easier (a bonus for Mac users as Excel 2008 reportedly lost its solving component), and vastly improved cropping features in the Draw and Impress apps are indeed more intuitive. When working in Writer, multiple pages can be displayed at once for a bird's eye view of a document, and notes (or comments) on a document are now displayed in a sidebar, paralleling the same UI found in many other text editors.

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