Apache OpenOffice allows users to comment on selected blocks of text

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Just over six weeks after entering beta, the Apache Software Foundation has released final version of Apache OpenOffice 4.1. The update is relatively minor, building on the major changes introduced in version 4 last year.

One notable new feature making its bow in version 4.1 is support for annotating and commenting on selected text ranges. Meanwhile Mac users should be aware that from version 4.1, OpenOffice becomes 64-bit only.

The new commenting and annotation feature makes it possible for users to now select blocks of text for commenting on. Previously, users could only introduce annotations and comments to a specific text position.

Writer users also gain in-place editing capabilities in text fields, while Impress and Draw now supports interactive cropping of transformed graphics. Stability improvements should also make the Import Picture from File and Drag & Drop Graphic Data features more robust.

Version 4.1 also gains support for the IAccessible2 interface, which should make OpenOffice easier to use for those with visual impairments by making it support screen readers "out of the box" with no further software or tweaking required.

Other improvements previewed in the beta include better performance when loading and importing large 3D charts, with the program better capable of keeping original graphic data intact instead of modifying it. Graphics content should also work more consistently with external image editors thanks to clipboard enhancements.

OpenOffice 4.1 also replaces outdated code from Mozilla Seamonkey with Network Security Services (NSS) libraries to improve the security of cryptography services and address book access. The main side-effect of this change is that Thunderbird users lose the ability to directly import their address book into OpenOffice. Another security improvement sees support dropped for authenticated LDAP access.

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 is available now as a free, open-source download for Windows, Mac and Linux.

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