OpenOffice 3.0 release hit by server crash

Summary:The new version of the free office productivity suite can read OOXML and work natively on the Mac, but demand appeared to have crashed the OpenOffice.org servers on its release day

The OpenOffice.org servers have crashed, apparently under the weight of demand for the latest version of the open-source office productivity suite.

OpenOffice 3.0 was uploaded to the organisation's servers at 10am BST on Monday. According to OpenOffice.org's marketing lead, John McCreesh, "the servers seem to have collapsed under the load" of download requests.

McCreesh pointed out that the "vast majority" of downloads of the suite take place through local mirrors, but said "the fact that our central site can't even run the bouncer [to divert requests to those local mirrors] must mean it's… our biggest-ever download".

"We've never had this kind of outage before," McCreesh added. At the time of writing (mid-afternoon Monday), the servers were still not back up.

OpenOffice 3.0 is a significant update to the suite, which includes free, community-led alternatives to Microsoft Office products such as Word and Excel. The new version includes native Mac OS X support for the first time, and is also the first iteration of OpenOffice to be able to read the .docx Office Open XML (OOXML) documents that are created in Office 2007. OOXML is the chief rival to the OpenDocument Format (ODF) specification that has been used in OpenOffice for some time.

The other big change in OpenOffice 3.0 is its increased focus on the integration of extensions. "What we are doing is improving the way people can build extensions so, rather than keep on increasing the size of OpenOffice, people can download additional functionality if they particularly need it," said McCreesh.

"We introduced [the extension functionality] in OpenOffice 2 but, now in 3, it's fully integrated so we can check for versions of extensions," said McCreesh. "It just looks like part of OpenOffice — you don't really know you're using an extension."

In the new version of the suite, the Writer application can now handle the editing of multiple pages at the same time and on separate monitors. The Calc application now supports larger spreadsheets and includes a new "solver" component for "people who are into high-powered equation-solving", McCreesh said. He also said the chart component, which is used across several of the OpenOffice applications, has been given a "complete rewrite" and is now "more visually appealing".

Asked why it was still not possible to export OOXML documents in OpenOffice, rather than just being able to read them, McCreesh said there had been "no demand" for such functionality.

"We're providing people with a migration path away from Microsoft," McCreesh said, adding that he thought OpenOffice fans should try to tempt Microsoft Office users over to the free alternative.

For those OpenOffice users who need to send a document to a Microsoft Office 2007 user, McCreesh recommended sending the document in an older Office format. "If you're one of the 10 people in an organisation who uses Office 2007, you would have to save in an old version anyway [for most colleagues]," he claimed. "The new Microsoft format is for a minority interest at the moment."

Topics: Tech Industry

About

David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't be paying many bills. His early journalistic career was spent in general news, working behind the scenes for BBC radio and on-air as a newsreader for independent stations. David's main focus is on communications, of both... Full Bio

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