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OpenOffice 4.0 released, introduces sidebar interface

Apache Software Foundation has released OpenOffice 4.0 which brings significant changes to the user interface and compatibility with Microsoft Office documents.

The new version of OpenOffice, has introduced a new sidebar, designed to take advantage of widescreen monitors. The side bar has been taken from IBM’s Lotus Symphony office Suite, which was a fork of OpenOffice.

Apache OpenOffice vice president Andrea Pescetti, said that the new side bar is “the first radical improvement to the OpenOffice user interface in years, users may easily edit their document properties in-context, with the most-frequently needed controls available in panels.” A new framework has also been introduced which will allow developers to build extensions for the side bar, “ enabling applications that integrate business application data, seamlessly integrate with cloud and mobile document editing environments, and automate common document workflow tasks.”

Apart from the new sidebar, OpenOffice several under the hood changes for improvements in graphics and performance. As many as 20 changes were made to improve compatibility with Microsoft Office Documents which include Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents.

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Rival LibreOffice has made good progress after it forked out of OpenOffice, while latter has been rather slow in developing new features. However, the new Sidebar has enabled OpenOffice take a huge leap forward.

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