OpenOffice.org Team via John McCreesh has announced the availability of the first beta release of OpenOffice.org 3.0, which is planned to be released as final version on next September. The purpose of this beta version is to get public feedback from all users and test the next major version of OpenOffice.org.
As it is a major version, new big things have been integrated on this version, for example new "Start Centre", new fresh-looking icons, and a new zoom control in the status bar. Notable Calc improvements include a new solver component; support for spreadsheet collaboration through workbook sharing; and an increase to 1024 columns per sheet. Writer has an improved notes feature and displays of multiple pages while editing. There are numerous Chart enhancements, and an improved crop feature in Draw and Impress.
Behind the scenes, OpenOffice.org 3.0 will support the upcoming OpenDocument Format (ODF) 1.2 standard, and is capable of opening files created with MS-Office 2007 or MS-Office 2008 for Mac OS X (.docx, .xlsx, .pptx, etc.). This is in addition to read and write support for the MS-Office binary file formats (.doc, .xls, .ppt, etc.).
OpenOffice.org 3.0 will be the first version to run on Mac OS X without X11, with the look and feel of any other Aqua application. It introduces partial VBA support to this platform. In addition, OpenOffice.org 3.0 integrates well with the Mac OS X accessibility APIs, and thus offers better accessibility support than many other Mac OS X applications.
Get the full list of OOo 3.0 Beta on the Marketing Page
OpenOffice.org 3 beta is immediately available in US English for MS-Windows, GNU/Linux, Mac OS X and OpenSolaris platforms from http://download.openoffice.org/3.0beta. This page also contains details of where to find localized builds and language packs as they become available. For more details, please consult the appropriate native language project - see http://projects.openoffice.org/native-lang.html
One nice feature in the upcoming OOo 3.0 Beta is the support for multi monitor support in Impress, so that presenters can look at something else while presenting their slides on a projector. With the upcoming Presenter Console Extension, this feature can be exploited to its maximum because then presenters will be able to see their next slides as well as the time and the speaker notes. This is very useful for presentation. For those who wanted to try this new extension, grab them here.