Open source observers can argue until the end of time over the validity of developing and enhancing free software for Windows, but the fact remains OpenOffice.org is thoroughly committed to the platform and continues to produce a top-notch, cross-platform office productivity suite that work perfectly well on Windows. In this article, we take a look at getting the latest OpenOffice.org 3.0 developer build up-and-running for Windows XP.
Okay, before you ask why not Vista, the reason is simple -- numbers! Microsoft might like us to believe Vista is selling like hotcakes, but XP is still by far and away the most popular Windows desktop release. TechWorld is in the process of setting up a Vista box for software testing and reviews, but until it is ready let's stick with XP.
At the time of writing, the latest OpenOffice.org development release was the 3.0 m14 snapshot, which should give us a good idea of what to expect when the final version 3.0 appears later this year.
Now let's get the software
Download. Getting OpenOffice.org developer builds couldn't be easier.
Make your way to the OpenOffice.org snapshot builds and release candidates download page and grab the binary release for Windows.
The Windows download weighs in at 144MB which, incidentally, is a good 10MB less than packages for other operating systems. If you're not interesting in spending an inordinate amount of time compiling OpenOffice.org then avoid the source code.
I didn't use a download manager, but for a file of this size the ability to resume a download may prove to be a good sanity control measure in the event of a drop-out.
Once downloaded, you can begin the installation.
To install the developer build double click the binary file's icon, which you must trust is from its original source.
The process itself is very straightforward and should proceed something like this:
-- The installation will prepare itself
-- Choose an installation folder (the default is on the Desktop)
-- The installation wizard will begin
-- Agree to the Lesser GPL licence terms
-- Choose whether you want the complete or custom installation
-- Want to use OOo by default for all office files? Select them here. It's okay to leave them blank
-- The installation will proceed
-- The setup steps will then begin where you can enter a username, whether to receive online updates, and to register the software
Once the installation has completed, you will land on a OOo-dev menu where you can begin using the office applications.
How easy was that? In a few minutes you can install OpenOffice.org in Windows and start using it for productive work. However, do keep in mind this is a development build and should not be relied upon the same way "stable" releases are.
Use the new OOo-dev 3.0 menu to launch the individual applications like Writer, Calc, and Impress, the presentation application.
In particular, the spreadsheet application Calc is looking like a significant improvement over the previous version.
If you feel OpenOffice.org does not perform the best on your computer, don't be alarmed.
I've been using this office suite since it was available as the proprietary-only StarOffice by StarDivision. Back in 2000 Sun Microsystems open sourced the code base to create the OpenOffice.org project.
After all those years, unfortunately one thing hasn't changed much and that's OpenOffice.org's speed. Even this latest development build, while better than previous versions, has a "heavy" feeling to it.
My clunky P4 2.8GHz machine with 512MB of memory, while frequently task intense, still struggles to kick OpenOffice.org into gear. Once the app is loaded into memory it does perform noticeably better. Let's hope Sun and other contributors can polish its performance some more before the final 3.0 release due in September.
This story, "First Look: OpenOffice.org 3.0 for Windows" was originally published by Techworld Australia.