2.0 Final Launches

After over two years in development, the final version of 2.0 has been made available for download. The productivity suite offers a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation builder and a database -- all for free and available in 36 languages for Windows and Unix based platforms.

Perhaps the most notable addition in 2.0 is support for the OASIS OpenDocument format, which could prove to be the first true rival to Microsoft's proprietary Office formats. OpenDocument is a completely open standard that has been chosen for use by several countries and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Base, a new database component for creating self-contained cross-platform database applications based on Java, also makes its first appearance in 2.0. The Calc spreadsheet component of the suite has been upgraded to support up to 65,536 rows of data.

Other major features in version 2.0 include a completely redesigned interface that provides multi-pane views, floating toolbars and native desktop integration, all which mirror elements of Microsoft Office. PDF support has also been vastly improved to offer new export options.

Although is open source and built by a community of developers, its progress has been backed by Sun Microsystems, which sells a version of the suite as StarOffice, Red Hat, Intel and Novell.

" is on a path toward being the most popular office suite the world has ever seen; providing users with safety, choice, and an opportunity to participate in one of the broadest community efforts the Internet has ever seen. As a member of that community, I'd like to offer my heartiest congratulations," commented Sun's President Jonathan Schwartz.

But trying to convert Microsoft Office users will be a gargantuan task for new, even with better compatibility and lack of a price tag. The 2.0 release does, however, improve the office suite filters used for importing Microsoft documents and adds support for Corel WordPerfect documents.

Even with a long road ahead, developers are celebrating today's accomplishment.

" 2.0 is the culmination of a collaborative process involving thousands working in dozens of languages everywhere in the world," said community manager Louis Suárez-Potts. "It shows that open source can produce software of the highest quality and assure the robustness, usability and security that users expect in their office suite."

Download 2.0 for Windows or Linux, and tell us what you think!

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