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OpenOffice.org 3 Goes Portable At Last

After an extended period of debugging and testing, OpenOffice.org 3's finally been officially released in a PortableApps edition. For those who always wanted to give OpenOffice.org a spin without actually installing it, this is the way to go.

After an extended period of debugging and testing, OpenOffice.org 3's finally been officially released in a PortableApps edition. For those who always wanted to give OpenOffice.org a spin without actually installing it, this is the way to go.

If you tried out the beta of OO.o 3's portable edition, the changes in the release candidate aren't going to be terribly major: some new branding in the startup screen, slightly faster load times all around, new icon sets (made available as a separate download), and a couple of other fit-and-finish changes. But for everyone reluctant to use anything marked "beta", having OO.o 3 P -- call it 3-P-O? -- in a fully baked edition ought to inspire them to try it out side-by-side with other programs.

I still find the things I like most about OpenOffice sit side-by-side with the things that drive me crazy about it. Some features are quite polished and thought-out, and others are dismayingly amateurish. The spreadsheet and presentation applications are good enough that I've been able to ditch Excel and PowerPoint -- but the database app is a joke (and I'm wondering if a lot of that is due to the fact that desktop database applications in general no longer have as clear a role as they used to).

More than that, though, I keep tripping over lots of dumb little things: try right-clicking on a text selection to choose a font on a machine where you have a lot of fonts installed, and you'll get a selection list that runs the entire height of the screen. None of these things in themselves are deal-killers, though, just irritants -- especially given the value of the suite as a whole.

And in what I can only consider to be a timely coincidence, there's a post at Microsoft's Port 25 blog about the upcoming support for ODF in Office 2007. It's still not clear if ODF will eclipse OOXML in the long run, but if anything like that did happen I wouldn't expect it to be the case for at least another two major releases of Office.

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