, the open-source office suite, will miss the planned Thursday launch of version 2.0 by about a week, developers said. The delay is due to a "showstopper" of a bug that emerged at the last minute, according to developers. is considered a major competitor to Microsoft Office, with the major differences that there's no charge and the source code is freely available. Sun Microsystems, the major sponsor of the project, sells a commercial version called StarOffice, which includes technical support options and additional tweaks.

OpenOffice version 2.0 has been eagerly awaited because of improved compatibility with Microsoft's office software and file formats - improving compatibility with macros, for example - and because it will be the first stable release of the suite to support Open Document Format (ODF).

ODF is a newly minted open standard designed to compete with proprietary formats, mainly those from Microsoft. Growing support for ODF coincided with Microsoft's recent decision to build support for PDF - another widely used document standard - into the next edition of Office. Microsoft said the move was not related to ODF.

Developer Stefan Taxhet said the release had been planned to coincide with the project's fifth anniversary. "It would have been nice to release 2.0 at the 13th of October," he wrote in a Weblog post. But in the last minute a serious showstopper (#i55330#) has been brought up. In a discussion on IRC we agreed that this is reason enough to start work on RC3."

Release Candidate 2 (RC2) had been planned as the final test release; instead it will be succeeded by RC3, Taxhet said.

The "showstopper" in question is a problem with graphical images in ODF documents. Image transparency levels were altered so that some images were invisible, developers said.

The delay will allow for three other, less bugs to be fixed in the final 2.0 release, developers said: a printing problem and two bugs in the Mac OS X release.

The final release is now planned for next Thursday, according to a tentative release schedule.