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LibreOffice 4.0 launched with improved usability, better Microsoft Office compatibility

LibreOffice, the open-source alternative to Microsoft Office, has reached a new milestone with the release of version 4.0, remaining free to download and use on Windows, OS X and Linux systems.

Originally born from the project, which had been accused by many contributors of stagnating under the control of corporate owner Oracle, LibreOffice has grown from a straightforward clone of the project with a different name to a significantly more powerful piece of software. According to the Document Foundation, the not-for-profit group leading its development, the source code is dramatically different with several million lines of changes going into the latest release.

"LibreOffice 4.0 is a milestone in interoperability and an excellent foundation for our continued work to improve the user interface," Florian Effenberger, Document Foundation chair, said of the release. "Our project is not only capable of attracting new developers on a regular basis, but it also creates a transparent platform for cooperation based on a strong Free Software ethos, where corporate sponsored and volunteer developers work to attain the same objective."

New features introduced in LibreOffice 4.0 include integration with content management systems including Microsoft's SharePoint 2010, improved compatibility with files in the .DOCX format - used by recent versions of Microsoft Office - and the ability to import Microsoft Publisher documents for the first time. The software also features improvements to the user interface, with theme support using the same theme files as Mozilla Firefox, along with performance improvements.

The release comes hot on the heels of Microsoft's Office 2013, but is significantly cheaper: where Microsoft's cheapest release, Office 2013 Home and Student Edition, costs £110 and does not include desktop publishing or database applications, LibreOffice is free for businesses and individuals to use and includes the full suite of word processing, spreadsheet, desktop publishing, database and illustration applications.

LibreOffice 4.0 can be downloaded now from the official website.

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