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Initial Thoughts on OpenOffice 3.0

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I recently decided to upgrade to OpenOffice 3. As many users know, the Ubuntu developers made the controversial decision not to include OO 3, released in mid-October 2008, in Ubuntu 8.10, out of concerns that it would not be stable enough. But I still made the move to OpenOffice 3.

Luckily, it’s not very difficult to replace Intrepid’s default OO 2.4 with OO 3.

The Good
My first impression of OO 3 was that its interface looks exactly like OO 2’s. There’s nothing wrong with that, and interface consistency is important to many users, as anyone who had to struggle through the nightmare of learning MS Office 2007’s “ribbon” interface will agree. Nonetheless, I found the similarity surprising, since the OO 1 interface was completely revamped for the release of OO 2 a few years ago.

Some of the most noticeable new features in OO 3 are a sliding scale in the lower-right corner to zoom in and out, and much-improved ‘Notes’ functionality for commenting on a document. Both of these ideas appear to be all but ripped verbatim from Microsoft Office, but they’re useful nonetheless.

The ability to view and edit multiple pages of a document side-by-side is also eerily similar to functionality introduced, if I recall correctly, by Microsoft in Word 2007, and makes me concerned that the OO developers focused more on imitating than innovating.

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