OpenOffice 3.2 released: more stability and more speed

 The OpenOffice team have made version 3.2 of the open source office suite for Windows, Mac OS, Linux and Solaris available to download. It offers numerous enhancements over its predecessor which offer both stability and speed benefits. Writer and Calc, for example, should now start twice as fast as in version 3.1.1.

Improved Microsoft Office filters now make it possible to open protected Word, Excel and PowerPoint files (after entering the correct password). The project tem has also improved compatibility with the OpenDocument standard.

Most of the changes are to be found in Calc, the calculator program, which includes more than a dozen new functions. Calc is now able to read pivot tables, OLE objects and form control elements from Excel 2007. In particular the development team has improved the spreadsheet chart function, which is also usable in other OpenOffice components, and has added bubble charts. In addition, the revamped user interface makes diagrams easier to use. Version 3.2 also fixes potential security vulnerabilities. The team will provide details in a forthcoming security bulletin

Not only is OpenOffice 3.2 faster and more stable, it is also more secure. As promised, the OpenOffice development team has now published details on the vulnerabilities fixed by version 3.2 of the office suite. Versions for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux are all affected. A total of seven vulnerabilities have been fixed, some of which could be exploited to inject and execute code. For an attack to be successful, a user must first open a specially crafted Word file, GIF or XPM image.

One security problem relates to the MSVC runtime library included in the Windows version of OpenOffice, which can be used to circumvent some security restrictions, such as kill bits for ActiveX controls. The update also fixes two bugs in the way cryptographic hashes are processed which could be used to fake digital signatures. With the exception of the vulnerability in MSVC, all the bugs are also present in OpenOffice 2.4.x. OpenOffice 2.4 is no longer supported  and will not receive further security updates. The developers advise all users to upgrade to the latest 3.2 release.

More details about the release can be found on the OpenOffice.org 3.2 New Features page and in the release notes. OpenOffice is released under version 3 of the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPLv3).

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