OpenOffice.org 3.0 goes Beta; Microsoft Office gets serious competition

The first beta of OpenOffice.org 3.0 came out hot from the mirror download sites of the open source organisation and promises to shake Microsoft Office 2007 as the launch date of September 2008 approaches.

The business suite which will be the first one to work natively on MacOS X gets some major refits as its introduces a Microsoft Works like, Start center that looks like a focal point to create various kind of documents.

There's also added support for Open Document Format and Microsoft's own Office 2007 formats as well as notable improvements when it comes to collaborative spreadsheet editing and image crop features.

Both Writer and Calc, the word processor and spreadsheet applications in OOO benefit from a number of enhancements.

OpenOffice 3.0 will be the biggest challenge Microsoft Office will be facing, far more important than Google Web-based applications, as it brings other features like extensive format support or native PDF export.

The OpenOffice.org project is firmly supported by IBM (who will be releasing an OOO-based Lotus Symphony within weeks of the final OpenOffice.org) and Sun Microsystems.