Apache OpenOffice 4.1 Beta unveiled, supports commenting and annotating on text ranges in Writer

Apache Software Foundation has unveiled the first public beta of its forthcoming Apache OpenOffice 4.1 release. The new version continues to build on the major changes introduced when version 4 was released last year.

Although termed a minor release, version 4.1 does add one major new feature -- the ability to commentate and annotate on text ranges -- as well as a number of significant improvements. It also moves to 64-bit only on the OS X platform.

Previous versions of Writer allowed users to add comments and annotations to specific text positions only, whereas version 4.1 now supports selecting a range of text -- including entire paragraphs -- before commenting or annotating it.

Improvements include in-place editing of Input Fields in Writer and a more robust Interactive Crop Feature for selected objects in Draw and Impress. The Import Picture from File and Drag & Drop of Graphic Data features have also been improved to work more consistently.Also enhanced are the load and import of large 3D charts. OpenOffice also improves its ability to keep the original graphic data intact instead of modifying it (typically by changing its filetype). There are also clipboard enhancements for graphics content to work better with external graphic editors.

Security has been tightened by replacing outdated code from Seamonkey with Network Security Services (NSS) libraries for cryptography services and address book access. One consequence of this change is that Thunderbird users will no longer be able to directly import their address book across to OpenOffice. Support for authenticated LDAP access has also been dropped.

The update adds six new languages -- including Bulgarian, Danish, Hindi and Thai, and becomes 64-bit on the Mac platform, upping its system requirements to OS X 10.7 (Lion) or later.

Apache OpenOffice 4.1.0 Beta is available now as a free, open-source download for testing on Windows, Mac and Linux. Also available is Apache OpenOffice 4.0.1.

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