OpenOffice.org unveils version 2.2

New release includes improved text display and security fixes.
Written by Tom Espiner, Contributor

The OpenOffice.org community released version 2.2 late last week, including updates to OpenOffice's word processor, spreadsheet, presentations and database software.

OpenOffice.org claimed its free software package provides a "real alternative" to Microsoft's Office 2007 product, and an easier upgrade path for existing Microsoft Office users.

The community claims to have addressed security issues in the upgrade, a number of vulnerabilities recently having been discovered in the suite. On March 21 the U.S. Department of Homeland Security reported two critical vulnerabilities--a stack-based buffer overflow was reported in the StarCalc parser in OpenOffice.org, plus a vulnerability that would allow the exploitation of a user's computer through manipulation of shell metacharacters in a prepared link in a crafted document.

Both vulnerabilities required user interaction, and both have been addressed in OpenOffice 2.2, according to a community spokesperson.

"OpenOffice.org 2.2 protects users from newly discovered vulnerabilities, where users' PCs could be open to attack if they opened documents from, or accessed websites set up by, malicious individuals," OpenOffice.org stated.

The organization said that in version 2.2, users will notice an improvement in the quality of the text display. For example, previously optional support for kerning, a technique to improve the appearance of text written in proportional fonts, is now enabled by default in 2.2.

The founding and principal sponsor for OpenOffice is Sun. Open Document Format (ODF), the standard that supports OpenOffice, was adopted as an ISO (International Organization of Standardization) standard in May, effectively making it a global open standard.

However, rival open format Office Open XML, developed by a group of organizations including Microsoft, is also pushing for ISO certification. On Monday Office Open XML moved to the next stage of gaining ISO certification--a five-month ballot by the national members of ISO and standards body the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) to see whether the standard should be awarded.

Apple, Barclays Capital, BP, The British Library, Essilor, Intel, Microsoft, NextPage, Novell, Statoil, Toshiba, and the United States Library of Congress all contribute to the Office Open XML project.

OpenOffice has proven to be popular of late, with French MPs choosing Linux over Windows and California considering following Massachusetts into the use of ODF.

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