Open Office 2.0

Steven Vaughan-Williams tracking open source events at eWeek has good news to report – OpenOffice 2.0 is in prebeta with a feature complete edition. In January the new beta will be out with final release planned for the February to March time frame. Good news.

The new edition of Open Office is chock full of new features but the biggest is simply the fact that OpenOffice is continuing to produce significant improvements to its software on a regular basis. This is important because the conjecture has been that in the Microsoft dominated categories like desktop Office software and Internet browsers there is no room for innovation beyond what Redmond prescribes.

Well first Mozilla with it very successful Firefox browser and now Open Office are proving otherwise. Microsoft is no longer the lowest cost producer nor the only innovator in these important software markets. And look at the innovations in Open Office – here are a few that caught this reviewers eye.

First, OpenOffice will be using the new OASIS standard XML format for storing office data. This is an open standrd that all major players like Corel, Microsoft, KDE/Gnome and others should adhere to for maximum data interoperability. It will be interesting to see how strongly various large user groups who have been calling for just such a standard – now sign on board and put pressure on the varius Office vendors to do likewise.

Next, Open Office 2.0 has adopted a new database HSQL which is a Java based desktop database engine and designer tool. OpenOffice has added some key front end capabilities for creating tables and administering the database. As well there will be wizards for creating forms, reports , and queries. But most important, HSQL will be able to read Access, dBase and MySQL files – how easily is yet to be determined.

Finally, Open Office is redoubling its efforts to make all its programs interoperate and read/write directly the latest Microsoft Office files and formats. This makes it easier for users to utilize incoming documents from MS Office. But it also makes conversion MS Office to Open Office that much easier. Not a bad strategy.