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LibreOffice inches closer to Office’s functionality with 4.4 update

“Intuitive, simple to use, and donning a modern design that comes up just short of Microsoft Office.” That’s the nutshell description of LibreOffice taken from our list of top MS Office alternatives, and it illustrates exactly why you should be at least curious about the open source software.

More so as The Document Foundation, its governing independent organization, has upgraded LibreOffice to version 4.4, the ninth major release in the suite’s fairly short four years and four months history.

It’s worth pointing out a firm six-month revamp schedule has been instated in 2013, so it’s no big surprise 4.4 bows today. But that doesn’t mean you’re looking at minor tweaks and bumps, launched because a calendar said so.

Not in the slightest, with a “significant number of design and user experience improvements” touted. The UI is prettier than ever, and brimming with advanced functionality, including OpenGL transition support in Windows.

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For OS X users, the Sifr monochrome icon theme inaugurated in version 4.2 has been “extended” and made the default choice. The Sidebar is smoother than before and enabled off the bat in Writer, Calc and Draw applications.

The Document Foundation has tried its best to bring LibreOffice closer to its higher-profile rivals too, by adding new import filters for Adobe Pagemaker, MacDraw and MacDraw II and activating the ability to digitally sign PDFs during exports.

Two fresh fonts, called Caladea and Carlito, are brought to the table to replace Calibri and Cambria and exterminate bugs when opening OOXML files. The menu bars are all redesigned, status bars and rulers are handier, the Color Selector supports various palettes, and media capabilities are expanded in Windows, OS X and Linux.

In a word, this is massive. And it may just make LibreOffice the sleekest, smoothest, coolest open source Microsoft Office contender.