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Document Foundation 1, Oracle 0: OpenOffice discarded, left to the community

Oracle, the "owners" of OpenOffice, have announced the discontinuation of commercial development on the popular office suite. OpenOffice will be continued as a community project.

OpenOffice rendered irrelevant

I’ve been at a loss for the last few days (the statement was made on Friday ) on how best to approach mentioning this on OMG! Ubuntu!.

Not being a business-orientated web magazine (and, indeed, with my having slept through most of my compulsory business units at University) this site is not best placed to debate the intricacies of Oracle’s decision from a financial or commercial perspective.

What we can say is that this news not only doesn’t surprise us but we find it borderline irrelevant too.

Indeed, the forking of OpenOffice late last year has meant that, in all honesty, the rather complex management web that ensued following Oracle’s ensnarement of OpenOffice has been something we’ve not needed to bother getting caught up in.

Likewise the choice was made even easier by Ubuntu adopting LibreOffice as default office suite within hours of its forking; Canonical, Google, Novell and other big names in the tech world stepping out in support of it; and the majority of OpenOffice’s independent development team jumping ship to work on LibreOffice too.

OpenOffice became a race-car with no batteries: the owner could still push it along but, on its own, it wasn’t going anywhere.

Will LibreOffice rename to OpenOffce?

With OpenOffice now, symbolically, being handed back to the community by Oracle the question is will LibreOffice developers return to developing OpenOffice?

Oracle’s Edward Screven says: -

"We intend to begin working immediately with community members to further the continued success of Open Office."

It would be easy to be cheeky and rib "What community members?" but, with churlishness set firmly aside, it will be time that tells how this ditching of OpenOffice by Oracle will play out in the wider community.

Don’t break what’s fixed

LibreOffice and its developers have little to gain by re-inhabiting the husk of its former-self. The name might have wider brand recognition but the project is dead in the water.

LibreOffice has become more than a competing office suite: it has become a success in its own right. One that stands as a prime example of the community knowing what is better for itself than that of an arrogant rights-holder.