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It's been less than a year since Sun Microsystems’ hit its major 3.0 release, but the next version of the open-source, cross-platform productivity suite is already available, complete with a slate of feature enhancements and performance tweaks.

After testing 3.1 on both Windows XP and Ubuntu Linux systems, I found Version 3.1 a worthwhile upgrade, particularly for those who work with charts and graphics within their documents, spreadsheets and presentations (OpenOffice 3.1 is also available for Apple's OS X and Sun's Solaris).

Featurewise, 3.1 matches up fairly well with Microsoft's Office. In addition, the team has done to make its suite compatible with Office's traditional binary and newer, XML file formats.

With that said, the only way to truly determine whether can serve as a replacement for - or complement to - Microsoft Office in your organisation is to try out the suite with your own documents and processes. Since is free to download and use, the barrier to trying it out is rather low.

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