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Free OpenOffice.org 1.0 Suite Available

The Linux community's and Windows bargain hunters' best hope for an alternative to Microsoft Office, OpenOffice, has officially debuted under the name of OpenOffice.org 1.0, and the open-source Windows, Linux, and Solaris suite is now available for free download -- if you can get onto the server, which has been swamped since the announcement.

Soon to be available in more than 25 languages (though only English builds are online today), OpenOffice.org 1.0 provides word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, and drawing programs which the development community calls "a near drop-in replacement for Microsoft Office," working transparently with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and other file formats as well as their native XML.

The productivity suite is built on the donated code base of Sun Microsystems' StarOffice 6.0. Sun, which gave away StarOffice 5.2 for free, plans to offer 6.0 as an under-$100 retail package including a database module, 24/7 tech help, and additional fonts not available in the open-source version; it's aiming at businesses seeking a low-cost but fully supported and corporate-certified alternative to Microsoft's dominant suite. By contrast, OpenOffice.org 1.0 is sustained by over 10,000 volunteers worldwide, with a free market for service and support.

WinPlanet is creeping through its own download of OpenOffice.org 1.0 and planning a full review at this writing. The jammed sources for the 49MB Windows zip file include HTTP servers in San Francisco, New York, and Britain and FTP servers in Sweden and Mexico.

Eric Grevstad is managing editor of sister site, WinPlanet.