The latest version of the open-source office suite OpenOffice.org 3.1 has just arrived, and it's a good one.
- Free, can match Microsoft Office in many areas
- Impress is not as good as PowerPoint
We've been using OpenOffice for years now. With these performance and appearance improvements, we can see more users moving to this free office suite. In particular, we think anyone who does spreadsheets every day owes it to themselves to compare Calc and Excel. You'll be impressed.
While some of the improvements to OpenOffice 3.1 are visible to the naked eye, we found that the most important changes were hidden under the hood.
What is it? OpenOffice.org 3.1 is a set of office productivity applications: Writer (word processor), Calc (spreadsheet), Impress (presentation manager) and Base (database manager). It's missing an Outlook substitute, but otherwise it's a complete replacement for Microsoft Office. The suite is available as a free download for Linux, Mac OS X, Solaris, and Windows; there are versions for most major languages.
OpenOffice 3.1: What does it do?
The first thing you'll notice about the new OpenOffice 3.1 is that it just looks better. Thanks to its use of anti-aliasing, the program menus, letters and images it displays are sharper and clearer. (You can see examples at Sun's OpenOffice.org engineering blog.)
We tested the OpenOffice 3.1 suite on a Windows XP system and one running MEPIS 8, a Debian-based Linux distribution. What really caught our attention after a few minutes of using the various OpenOffice.org apps was how much faster this version is than version 3.0.
This was especially clear on when we ran it on a Windows XP system. It used to take about 12 seconds to launch Writer; now it takes just over 6 seconds. We saw similar performance boosts when running the various other applications of OpenOffice 3.1. It's almost like running OpenOffice.org on a brand new machine.
Another good feature, if you're considering OpenOffice 3.1 for office use, is that it now has its own OS-independent file-locking system. Now Jack in marketing, who uses a Mac, can't overwrite a change that was just made by Jill in the (Windows-based) comptroller's office.
We tried to mangle a shared document (that existed on a Windows Server 2008 file server) by editing it from our Linux desktop and also from the XP desktop. We couldn't do it. The file-locking mechanism preserved the document from our best attempts to make a complete mess of it.
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A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
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