OpenOffice has pushed their popular Microsoft Office freeware alternative into release candidate territory. Available for Windows, Mac, and Linux, open-source OpenOffice is a productivity suite analogous to and compatible with Microsoft's near-ubiquitous tool. There is more to recommend OpenOffice 3 than the price tag, though.

New features you can test out now include Microsoft Access database support and a multipage view in Writer, the Word analog, nearly unlimited character support in sheet names, Google Doc-style collaborative editing of a single spreadsheet simultaneously, and much-needed support for Office 2007 file types.

Empirically, OpenOffice 3 seems to start marginally faster than the slow-to-go current version, although I did not perform benchmark tests on this.