has released an early alpha Mac-native version of popular productivity suite, OpenOffice.

The Mac porting team announced the new software this week. The release of the alpha is a major step in the development of the Mac port of the software.

Previously, Mac users installing OpenOffice have also had to install the X11 windowing application as supplied by Apple. This is the first time the software has been available in a fully native form, meaning it runs happily on a standard install of Mac OS X - and no longer needs X11.

The release isn't complete and hasn't yet been fully tested. At present the developers are warning users not to use the pre-beta product for any production or critical work, "as the software may crash and may destroy your data," the developers said.

"A backup of all documents used in Aqua is recommended," they warned.

There are a number of known issues within the current version, including the fact that users cannot print, and PDF export isn't yet fully functional. Copy and paste functions don't function fully, while the application will crash after quitting.

There are a number of other known problems in the release, though the development of the software has clearly ramped-up since more resources were given to the project.