The Document Foundation on Sunday announced the availability of the first release candidate of LibreOffice, marking the approach of the first stable version of the brand-new open source productivity suite. The new release candidate is now available for download for Linux, Windows and Mac OS X.

The release is not yet intended for production systems, as there are still some known issues. Nevertheless, it’s the closest look we’ve had at the software since The Document Foundation announced its “fork” of the popular OpenOffice.org package.

Many of the major Linux distributions will be replacing OpenOffice with LibreOffice once the final release is available, so there’s no better time to check out the new software. Here are just a few reasons why you should.

  1. It is Powerful. Based on OpenOffice.org 3.3 for which Oracle just released a seventh release candidate, LibreOffice 3.3 adds numerous improvements that make the new office productivity suite especially attractive to business users.
  2. It is Free of Oracle. Ever since Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems early this year, there has been considerable concern over the future of OpenOffice.org as well as the other open source projects Oracle inherited in the process.
  3. It is Free. As with all free and open source software, LibreOffice is not just free of corporate control, it’s also free of cost. You can download and test out the productivity suite at will, with no financial commitment.
  4. It is Just the Beginning. LibreOffice 3.3 already promises to be a better and more stable version of OpenOffice.org, specifically aiming to let users focus on the contents of their documents rather than having to worry about the mechanics of the software, as steering committee member Charles Schulz recently pointed out.
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