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Treat yourself to a suite alternative: 3.0

3.0 is a great suite of office productivity applications (word processor, spreadsheet, presentation & database) that's very similar to Microsoft Office in function, and very different in price. Where pricing for Microsoft Office 2007 starts around $100, you can download and use 3.0 for free. In fact, since 3.0 is open source software, it's also free to redistribute. In other words, if somebody asks you for a copy of your office suite, you can hand it over without without worrying that some coalition of willing FBI & Interpol agents might swing through your windows, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation style, to redress your copyright abuses.

Next to its free-ness, the best thing about is that it will run quite happily on your computer, whether you're a PC, a Mac, or a nerdy user of Linux or Solaris.

Mac users who have taken for a spin in the past will appreciate the way that version 3.0 blends naturally into OS X's Aqua interface -- previous versions of the suite for the Mac required the X11 subsystem from Apple to run, and these versions didn't seem very Mac-like in their operation.

PowerPC Mac-heads take note, however, this Aquafied version is for Intel Macs only--check out for a PPC-friendly option.

Now that we've established that will run on your computer--pretty much no matter what--you may be wondering whether this free suite will work with your Microsoft Office files. will indeed open files created in Microsoft Office, and you can modify these files and save them back to Office format, as well as create new Office-formatted files. By default, does not save file in Microsoft formats, although you can change this, if you wish.

The reason for this file format proliferation is that until very recently, Microsoft kept the details of its document formats secret. Rather than depend on an incomplete understanding of a reverse-engineered document format, the creators of joined a group of other projects and companies to spec out a new, standardized format: the OpenDocument Format.

Today, uses ODF, as does IBM's Lotus Symphony, Google's Docs and Spreadsheets, Zoho Office, and others. Even Microsoft, which initially declined to join the ODF group, has announced its plans to add ODF support to Office 2007 early next year.

Read the complete article by Jason Brooks in the S.F. Technology Examiner. Focus Areas: BPEL | DITA | ebXML | IDtrust | OpenDocument | SAML | UBL | UDDI
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