2008/9 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Software

An Writer window in Ubuntu
Developed by Sun Microsystems/ free software community
Stable release  ( June 9, 2008 (2008-06-09)) [ +/−]
Preview release  ( July 16, 2008 (2008-07-16)) [ +/−]
Written in C++, Java
OS Cross-platform
Available in Over 18 languages
Type Office suite
License GNU Lesser General Public License 3.0
Website (OO.o or OOo) is a cross-platform office application suite available for a number of different computer operating systems. It supports the ISO standard OpenDocument Format (ODF) for data interchange as its default file format, as well as Microsoft Office '97–2003 formats, Microsoft Office '2007 format (in version 3), among many others. was originally derived from StarOffice, an office suite developed by StarDivision and acquired by Sun Microsystems in August 1999. The source code of the suite was released in July 2000 with the aim of reducing the dominant market share of Microsoft Office by providing a free, open and high-quality alternative; later versions of StarOffice are based upon with additional proprietary components. is free software, available under the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL).

The project and software are informally referred to as OpenOffice, but this term is a trademark held by another party, requiring the project to adopt as its formal name.

History versions
Version Release Date Description
Build 638c October 2001 The first milestone release
1.0 May 1, 2002 May 2, 2003 Recommended for Windows 95
1.1 September 2, 2003
1.1.1 March 30, 2004 Bundled with TheOpenCD
1.1.2 June 2004
1.1.3 October 4, 2004
1.1.4 December 22, 2004
1.1.5 September 14, 2005 Last release for 1.x product line

Final version for Windows 95
It can edit 2 files

1.1.5secpatch July 4, 2006 Security patch (macros)
2.0 October 20, 2005 Milestone
2.0.1 December 21, 2005
2.0.2 March 8, 2006
2.0.3 June 29, 2006
2.0.4 October 13, 2006
2.1.0 December 12, 2006
2.2.0 March 28, 2007 Included a security update;
Reintroduced font kerning
2.2.1 June 12, 2007
2.3.0 September 17, 2007 Updated charting component
2.3.1 December 4, 2007 Stability and security update
2.4.0 March 27, 2008 Bug fixes and new features
2.4.1 June 10, 2008 Security fix, minor enhancements, and bug fixes

Originally developed as the proprietary software application suite StarOffice by the German company StarDivision, the code was purchased in 1999 by Sun Microsystems. In August 1999 version 5.2 of StarOffice was made available free of charge.

On July 19, 2000, Sun Microsystems announced that it was making the source code of StarOffice available for download under both the LGPL and the Sun Industry Standards Source License (SISSL) with the intention of building an open source development community around the software. The new project was known as, and its website went live on October 13, 2000.

Work on version 2.0 began in early 2003 with the following goals: better interoperability with Microsoft Office; better performance, with improved speed and lower memory usage; greater scripting capabilities; better integration, particularly with GNOME; an easier-to-find and use database front-end for creating reports, forms and queries; a new built-in SQL database; and improved usability. A beta version was released on March 4, 2005.

On September 2, 2005 Sun announced that it was retiring the SISSL. As a consequence, the Community Council announced that it would no longer dual license the office suite, and future versions would use only the LGPL.

On October 20, 2005, 2.0 was formally released to the public. Eight weeks after the release of Version 2.0, an update, 2.0.1, was released. It fixed minor bugs and introduced new features.

As of the 2.0.3 release, changed its release cycle from 18-months to releasing updates, feature enhancements and bug fixes every three months. Currently, new versions including new features are released every six months (so-called "feature releases") alternating with so-called "bug fix releases" which are being released between two feature releases (Every 3 months).


Sun subsidizes the development of in order to use it as a base for its commercial proprietary StarOffice application software. Releases of StarOffice since version 6.0 have been based on the source code, with some additional proprietary components, including:

  • Additional bundled fonts (especially East Asian language fonts).
  • Adabas D database.
  • Additional document templates.
  • Clip art.
  • Sorting functionality for Asian versions.
  • Additional file filters.
  • Migration assessment tool (Enterprise Edition).
  • Macro migration tool (Enterprise Edition).
  • Configuration management tool (Enterprise Edition)., therefore, inherited many features from the original StarOffice upon which it was based including the XML file format which it retained until version 2, when it was replaced by the ISO standard OpenDocument Format (ODF).


According to its mission statement, the project aims "To create, as a community, the leading international office suite that will run on all major platforms and provide access to all functionality and data through open-component based APIs and an XML-based file format." aims to compete with Microsoft Office and emulate its look and feel where suitable. It can read and write most of the file formats found in Microsoft Office, and many other applications; an essential feature of the suite for many users. has been found to be able to open files of older versions of Microsoft Office and damaged files that newer versions of Microsoft Office itself cannot open. However, it cannot open older Word for Macintosh (MCW) files.


Platforms for which OO.o is available include Microsoft Windows, Linux, Solaris, BSD, OpenVMS, OS/2 and IRIX. The current primary development platforms are Microsoft Windows, Linux and Solaris.

A port for Mac OS X exists for OS X machines which have the X Window System component installed. A port to OS X's native Aqua user interface is in progress, and is scheduled for completion for the 3.0 milestone. NeoOffice is an independent fork of OpenOffice, specially adapted for Mac OS X.

Version compatibility

  • Windows 95: up to v1.1.5
  • Windows 98-Vista: up to v2.4, development releases of v3.0
  • Mac OS 10.2: up to v1.1.2
  • Mac OS 10.3: up to v2.1
  • Mac OS 10.4-10.5: up to v2.4, development releases of v3.0 ( intel only)
  • OS/2 and eComStation: up to v2.0.4

Components is a collection of applications that work together closely to provide the features expected from a modern office suite. Many of the components are designed to mirror those available in Microsoft Office. The components available include:

Writer A word processor similar in look and feel to Microsoft Word and offering a comparable range of functions and tools. It also includes the ability to export Portable Document Format (PDF) files with no additional software, and can also function as a WYSIWYG editor for creating and editing web pages.
Calc A spreadsheet similar to Microsoft Excel with a roughly equivalent range of features. Calc provides a number of features not present in Excel, including a system which automatically defines series for graphing, based on the layout of the user’s data. Calc is also capable of writing spreadsheets directly as a PDF file.
Impress A presentation program similar to Microsoft PowerPoint. It can export presentations to Adobe Flash (SWF) files allowing them to be played on any computer with the Flash player installed. It also includes the ability to create PDF files, and the ability to read Microsoft PowerPoint's .ppt format. Impress suffers from a lack of ready-made presentation designs. However, templates are readily available on the Internet.
Base A database program similar to Microsoft Access. Base allows the creation and manipulation of databases, and the building of forms and reports to provide easy access to data for end-users. As with Access, Base may be used as a front-end to a number of different database systems, including Access databases (JET), ODBC data sources and MySQL/ PostgreSQL. Base became part of the suite starting with version 2.0. Native to the suite is an adaptation of HSQL. While ooBase can be a front-end for any of the databases listed, there is no need for any of them to be installed.
Draw A vector graphics editor comparable in features to early versions of CorelDRAW. It features versatile "connectors" between shapes, which are available in a range of line styles and facilitate building drawings such as flowcharts. It has similar features to Desktop publishing software such as Scribus and Microsoft Publisher.
Math A tool for creating and editing mathematical formulae, similar to Microsoft Equation Editor. Formulae can be embedded inside other documents, such as those created by Writer. It supports multiple fonts and can export to PDF.
  • QuickStarter
A small program for Windows and Linux that runs when the computer starts for the first time. It loads the core files and libraries for during computer startup and allows the suite applications to start more quickly when selected later. The amount of time it takes to open applications was a common complaint in version 1.0 of the suite. Substantial improvements were made in this area for version 2.2.
  • The macro recorder
Is used to record user actions and replay them later to help with automating tasks, using Basic"> Basic (see below).

It is not possible to download these components individually on Windows, though they can be installed separately. Most Linux distributions break the components into individual packages which may be downloaded and installed separately. Basic Basic is a programming language similar to Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) based on StarOffice Basic. In addition to the macros, the upcoming Novell edition of 2.0 supports running Microsoft VBA macros, a feature expected to be incorporated into the mainstream version soon. Basic is available in the Writer and Calc applications. It is written in functions called subroutines or macros, with each macro performing a different task, such as counting the words in a paragraph. Basic is especially useful in doing repetitive tasks that have not been integrated in the program.

As the database, called "Base", uses documents created under the Writer application for reports and forms, one could say that Base can also be programmed with Basic.

File formats pioneered the ISO/IEC standard OpenDocument file formats (ODF), which it uses natively, by default. It also supports reading (and in some cases writing) a large number of legacy proprietary file formats (e.g.: WordPerfect through libwpd, StarOffice, Lotus software, MS Works through libwps, Rich Text Format), most notably including Microsoft Office formats after which the OpenDocument specification was "approved for release as an ISO and IEC International Standard" under the name ISO/IEC 26300:2006..

Microsoft Office interoperability

In response to Microsoft's recent movement towards using the Office Open XML format in Microsoft Office 2007, Novell has released an Office Open XML converter for OOo under a liberal BSD license (along with GNU GPL and LGPL licensed libraries), that will be submitted for inclusion into the project. This allows OOo to read and write Microsoft OpenXML-formatted word processing documents (.docx) in Currently it works only with the latest Novell edition of

Sun Microsystems has developed an ODF plugin for Microsoft Office which enables users of Microsoft Office Word, Excel and PowerPoint to read and write ODF documents. The plugin currently works with Microsoft Office 2003, Microsoft Office XP and Microsoft Office 2000. Support for Microsoft Office 2007 is only available in combination with Microsoft Office 2007 SP1.

Several software companies (including Microsoft and Novell) are working on an add-in for Microsoft Office that allows reading and writing ODF files. Currently it works only for Microsoft Word 2007 / XP / 2003.

Microsoft provides a compatibility pack to read and write Office Open XML files with Office 2000, XP and 2003. The compatibility pack can also be used as a stand-alone converter with Microsoft Office 97. This might be helpful to convert older Microsoft Office files via Office Open XML to ODF if a direct conversion doesn't work as expected. The Office compatibility pack however does not install for Office 2000 or Office XP on Windows 9x.

Note that some office applications built with Microsoft components may refuse to import OpenOffice data. The Sage Group's Simply Accounting, for example, can import Excel's .xls files, but refuses to accept .xls files for the reason that the OOo .xls files are not "genuine Microsoft" .xls files.



The API is based on a component technology known as Universal Network Objects (UNO). It consists of a wide range of interfaces defined in a CORBA-like interface description language.

The document file format used is based on XML and several export and import filters. All external formats read by are converted back and forth from an internal XML representation. By using compression when saving XML to disk, files are generally smaller than the equivalent binary Microsoft Office documents. The native file format for storing documents in version 1.0 was used as the basis of the OASIS OpenDocument file format standard, which has become the default file format in version 2.0.

Development versions of the suite are released every few weeks on the developer zone of the website. The releases are meant for those who wish to test new features or are simply curious about forthcoming changes; they are not suitable for production use.

Native desktop integration 1.0 was criticized for not having the look and feel of applications developed natively for the platforms on which it runs. Starting with version 2.0, uses native widget toolkit, icons, and font-rendering libraries across a variety of platforms, to better match native applications and provide a smoother experience for the user. There are projects underway to further improve this integration on both GNOME and KDE.

This issue has been particularly pronounced on Mac OS X, whose standard user interface looks noticeably different from either Windows or X11-based desktop environments and requires the use of programming toolkits unfamiliar to most developers. There are two implementations of available for OS X: Mac OS X (X11)
This official implementation requires the installation of or XDarwin, and is a close port of the well-tested Unix version. It is functionally equivalent to the Unix version, and its user interface resembles the look and feel of that version; for example, the application uses its own menu bar instead of the OS X menu at the top of the screen. It also requires system fonts to be converted to X11 format for to use them (which can be done during application installation). Aqua
After a first step (completed) using Carbon, Aqua switched to Cocoa technology, and an Aqua version (based on Cocoa) is also being developed under the aegis of, with a Beta version currently available. Sun Microsystems is collaborating with OOo to further development of the Aqua version of for Mac.


Currently, a developed preview of 3 (OOo-dev 3.0) is available for download.

Among the planned features for OOo 3.0, set to be released by September 2008 , are:

  • Personal Information Manager ( PIM), probably based on Thunderbird/ Lightning
  • PDF import into Draw (to maintain correct layout of the original PDF)
  • OOXML document support for opening documents created in Office 2007
  • Support for Mac OS X Aqua platform
  • Extensions, to add third party functionality.
  • Presenter screen in Impress with multi-screen support

Other projects

A number of products are derived from Among the more well-known ones are Sun StarOffice and NeoOffice. The site also lists a large variety of complementary products including groupware solutions.


NeoOffice is an independent port that integrates with OS X’s Aqua user interface using Java, Carbon and (increasingly) Cocoa toolkits. NeoOffice adheres fairly closely to OS X UI standards (for example, using native pull-down menus), and has direct access to OS X’s installed fonts and printers. Its releases lag behind the official X11 releases, due to its small development team and the concurrent development of the technology used to port the user interface.

Other projects run alongside the main project and are easier to contribute to. These include documentation, internationalisation and localisation and the API. is a set of extension programs to allow the sharing of documents, calendars, address books, e-mails, instant messaging and blackboards, and provide access to other groupware applications.

There is also an effort to create and share assorted document templates and other useful additions at OOExtras.

A set of Perl extensions is available through the CPAN in order to allow document processing by external programs. These libraries do not use the API. They directly read or write the files using Perl standard file compression/decompression, XML access and UTF-8 encoding modules.


A distribution of called Portable is designed to run the suite from a USB flash drive.

OxygenOffice Professional

An enhancement of, providing: Current Version: 2.4

  • Possibility to run Visual Basic for Application (VBA) macros in Calc (for testing)
  • Improved Calc HTML export
  • Enhanced Access support for Base
  • Security fixes
  • Enhanced performance
  • Enhanced colour-palette
  • Enhanced help menu, additional User’s Manual, and extended tips for beginners

Optionally it provides, free for personal and professional use:

  • More than 3,200 graphics, both clip art and photos.
  • Several templates and sample documents
  • Over 90 free fonts.
  • Additional tools like OOoWikipedia


Since version 2.0.4, has supported extensions in a similar manner to Mozilla Firefox. Extensions make it easy to add new functionality to an existing installation. The Extension Repository lists already more than 80 extensions. Developers can easily build new extensions for, for example by using the API Plugin for NetBeans.

The Bibliographic Project

This aims to incorporate a powerful reference management software into the suite. The new major addition is slated for inclusion with the standard release on late-2007 to mid-2008, or possibly later depending upon the availability of programmers.

Security includes a security team, and as of June 2008 the security organization Secunia reports no known unpatched security flaws for the software. Kaspersky Lab has shown a proof of concept virus for This shows OOo viruses are possible, but there is no known virus "in the wild".

In a private meeting of the French Ministry of Defense, macro-related security issues were raised. developers have responded and noted that the supposed vulnerability had not been announced through "well defined procedures" for disclosure and that the ministry had revealed nothing specific. However, the developers have been in talks with the researcher concerning the supposed vulnerability.

As with Microsoft Word, documents created in OpenOffice can contain metadata which may include a complete history of what was changed, when and by whom.


The project and software are informally referred to as OpenOffice, but project organizers report that this term is a trademark held by another party, requiring them to adopt as its formal name. (Due to a similar trademark issue, the Brazilian Portuguese version of the suite is distributed under the name

Development is managed by staff members of StarOffice. Some delay and difficulty in implementing external contributions to the core codebase (even those from the project's corporate sponsors) has been noted.

Currently, there are several derived and/or proprietary works based on OOo, with some of them being:

  • Sun Microsystem's StarOffice, with various complementary add-ons.
  • IBM's Lotus Symphony, with a new interface based on Eclipse (based on OO.o 1.x).
  • Novell edition, integrated with Evolution and with a OOXML filter.
  • Beijing Redflag Chinese 2000's RedOffice, fully localized in Chinese characters.
  • Planamesa's NeoOffice for Mac OS X with Aqua support via Java.

In May 23, 2007, the community and Redflag Chinese 2000 Software Co, Ltd. announced a joint development effort focused on integrating the new features that have been added in the RedOffice localization of, as well as quality assurance and work on the core applications. Additionally, Redflag Chinese 2000 made public its commitment to the global OO.o community stating it would "strengthen its support of the development of the world's leading free and open source productivity suite", adding around 50 engineers (that have been working on RedOffice since 2006) to the project.

In September 10, 2007, the OO.o community announced that IBM had joined to support the development of "IBM will be making initial code contributions that it has been developing as part of its Lotus Notes product, including accessibility enhancements, and will be making ongoing contributions to the feature richness and code quality of Besides working with the community on the free productivity suite's software, IBM will also leverage technology in its products" as has been seen with Lotus Symphony. Sean Poulley, the vice president of business and strategy in IBM's Lotus Software division said that IBM plans to take a leadership role in the community together with other companies such as Sun Microsystems. IBM will work within the leadership structure that exists.

As of October 02, 2007, Michael Meeks announced (and generated an answer by Sun's Simon Phipps and Mathias Bauer) a derived work, under the wing of his employer Novell, with the purpose of including new features and fixes that do not get easily integrated in the OOo-build up-stream core. The work is called Go-OO ( a name under which alternative OO.o software has been available for five years. The new features are shared with Novell's edition of OOo and include:

  • VBA macros support.
  • Faster start up time.
  • "A linear optimization solver to optimize a cell value based on arbitrary constraints built into Calc".
  • Multimedia content supports into documents, using the gstreamer multimedia framework.
  • Support for Microsoft Works formats, WordPerfect graphics (WPG format) and T602 files imports.

Details about the patch handling including metrics can be found on the site.


Federal Computer Week issue listed as one of the "5 stars of open-source products." In contrast, was used in 2005 by The Guardian newspaper to illustrate what it claims are the limitations of open-source software, although the article does finish by stating that the software may be better than MS Word for books. was featured by eWeek several times, version 2.0 was reviewed by Linux Magazine and previewed by other media. Version 2.0 PC Pro review verdict was 6 stars out of 6 and stated: "Our pick of the low-cost office suites has had a much-needed overhaul, and now battles Microsoft in terms of features, not just price." The reviewer also concluded following:

OpenOffice certainly doesn't lack features compared to the market leader, and most of its ease-of-use issues stem from people's familiarity with Microsoft Office rather than an inherent problem with the program itself. As such, you should certainly try OpenOffice's offering before donating another GBP 100 or more to Microsoft's coffers.

ComputerWorld of IDG found out that for large government departments, migration to 2.0 was 10 times cheaper than upgrading to Microsoft Office 12.

Market share

It is extremely difficult to estimate the market share of due to the fact that can be freely distributed via download sites including mirrors, peer-to-peer networks, CDs, Linux distros, etc. Nevertheless, the tries to capture key adoption data in a market share analysis

Although Microsoft Office retains 95% of the general market as measured by revenue, and StarOffice have secured 14% of the large enterprise market as of 2004 and 19% of the small to midsize business market in 2005. The web site reports more than 98 million downloads.

Other large scale users of include Singapore’s Ministry of Defence, and Bristol City Council in the UK. In France, has attracted the attention of both local and national government administrations who wish to rationalize their software procurement, as well as have stable, standard file formats for archival purposes. It is now the official office suite for the French Gendarmerie. Several government organizations in India, such as IIT Bombay (a renowned technical institute), the Supreme Court of India, the Allahabad High Court, which use Linux, completely rely on for their administration.

On October 4, 2005, Sun and Google announced a strategic partnership. As part of this agreement, Sun will add a Google search bar to, Sun and Google will engage in joint marketing activities as well as joint research and development, and Google will help distribute Google is currently distributing StarOffice as part of the Google Pack.

Besides StarOffice, there are still a number of derived commercial products. Most of them are developed under SISSL license (which is valid up to 2.0 Beta 2). In general they are targeted at local or niche market, with proprietary add-ons such as speech recognition module, automatic database connection, or better CJK support.

In July 2007 Everex, a division of First International Computer and the 9th largest PC supplier in the U.S., began shipping systems preloaded with 2.2 into Wal-Mart and Sam's Club throughout North America.

In September 2007 IBM announced that it would supply and support branded as Lotus Symphony, and integrated into Lotus Notes. IBM also announced 35 developers would be assigned to work on, and that it would join the foundation. Commentators noted parallels between IBM's 2000 support of Linux and this announcement.

Java controversy

In the past was criticized for an increasing dependency on the Java Runtime Environment which was not free software. That Sun Microsystems is both the creator of Java and the chief supporter of drew accusations of ulterior motives for this technology choice.

Version 1 depended on the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) being present on the user’s computer for some auxiliary functions, but version 2 increased the suite’s use of Java requiring a JRE. In response, Red Hat increased their efforts to improve free Java implementations. Red Hat’s Fedora Core 4 (released on June 13, 2005) included a beta version of version 2, running on GCJ and GNU Classpath.

The issue of’s use of Java came to the fore in May 2005, when Richard Stallman appeared to call for a fork of the application in a posting on the Free Software Foundation website. This led to discussions within the community and between Sun staff and developers involved in GNU Classpath, a free replacement for Sun’s Java implementation. Later that year, the developers also placed into their development guidelines various requirements to ensure that future versions of could be run on free implementations of Java and fixed the issues which previously prevented 2.0 from using free software Java implementations.

On November 13, 2006, Sun committed to releasing Java under the GNU General Public License in the near future. This process would end's dependence on non-free software.

Between November 2006 and May 2007, Sun Microsystems made available most of their Java technologies under the GNU General Public License, in compliance with the specifications of the Java Community Process, thus making almost all of Sun's Java also free software.

The following areas of 2.0 depend on the JRE being present:

  • The media player on Unix-like systems
  • All document wizards in Writer
  • Accessibility tools
  • Report Autopilot
  • JDBC driver support
  • HSQL database engine, which is used in Base
  • XSLT filters
  • BeanShell, the NetBeans scripting language and the Java UNO bridge
  • Export filters to the Aportis.doc (.pdb) format for the Palm OS or Pocket Word (.psw) format for the Pocket PC
  • Export filter to LaTeX
  • Export filter to MediaWiki's wikitext

A common point of confusion is that mail merge to generate emails requires the Java API JavaMail in StarOffice; however, as of version 2.0.1, uses a Python-component instead.

Complementary software provides replacement for MS Office's Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint, Microsoft Access, Microsoft Equation Editor and Microsoft Visio. But to level the equivalent functionality from the rest of MS Office, OOo can be complemented with other open source programs such as:

  • Evolution or Thunderbird/ Lightning for a PIM like Microsoft Outlook
  • OpenProj (which seeks integration with OOo, but might be limited due to licensing issues) for Microsoft Project
  • Scribus for Microsoft Publisher
  • O3spaces for Sharepoint

Microsoft also provides Administrative Template Files ("adm files") that allow MS Office to be configured using Windows Group Policy. Equivalent functionality for is provided by OpenOffice-Enterprise, a commercial product from Open Office Technology, Inc.

Issues has been criticized for slow start times and extensive CPU and RAM usage in comparison to other competitive software such as Microsoft Office. In comparison, tests between 2.2 and Microsoft Office 2007 have found that takes approximately 2 times the processing time and memory to load itself along with a blank file; and took approximately 4.7 times the processing time and 3.9 times the memory to open an extremely large spreadsheet file. Critics have pointed to excessive code bloat and's loading of the Java Runtime Environment as possible reasons for the slow speeds and excessive memory usage. However, since 2.2 the performance of has been improved dramatically.

One of the greatest challenges is its ability to be truly cross compatible with other applications. Since is forced to reverse engineer proprietary binary formats due to unavailability of open specifications, slight formatting incompatibilities tend to exist when files are saved in non-native format. For example, a complex .doc document formatted under, is usually not displayed with the correct format when opened with Microsoft Office.


The free software license under which is distributed allows unlimited use of the software for both home and business use, including unlimited redistribution of the software. Several businesses sell the suite on auction websites such as eBay, offering value-added services such as 24/7 technical support, download mirrors, and CD mailing. However, often the 24/7 support offered is not provided by the company selling the software, but rather by the official mailing list.

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