Oracle has announced its intention to move OpenOffice.org to be a purely community-based open-source project. This news comes in the same week as the beta of OpenOffice.org 3.4 is released.
Oracle appears to have accepted that as it is unlikely to be able to make substantial revenue from OpenOffice it might as well get shot of it.
The statement released by Oracle quotes Edward Screven, Oracle's Chief Corporate Architect as saying:
"Given the breadth of interest in free personal productivity applications and the rapid evolution of personal computing technologies, we believe the OpenOffice.org project would be best managed by an organization focused on serving that broad constituency on a non-commercial basis.
It also makes explicit reference to its continued support for open source products:
We will continue to make large investments in open source technologies that are strategic to our customers including Linux and MySQL. Oracle is focused on Linux and MySQL because both of these products have won broad based adoption among commercial and government customers.
However, the fact that no reference is made in this paragraph to OpenOffice suggests that no further developer involvement or financial investment can be expected.
Although Screven states:
"We intend to begin working immediately with community members to further the continued success of Open Office."
Whether Open Office can survive without Oracle's support given that so many of its previous developer community became so disillusioned that they forked to form The Document Foundation is questionable. Within only four months of the split, TDF's LibreOffice 3.3 already claimed to have more features than the equivalent OpenOffice.org 3.3 and it has the momentum of a young, enthusiastic and "liberated"organization. The recent decision by Ubuntu to use LibreOffice rather than OpenOffice in future releases has also boosted its position.
On the other hand it may be that LibreOffice will be the open source suite to suffer from this development. OpenOffice is the more recognized brand and is backed by IBM - and it is being speculated that it is IBM that has persuaded Oracle to let go the reins while there is still enough life left in OpenOffice for it to regain its former position.
What ever happens in the future Oracle have made the situation worse by first forcing the split and then removing the reason for it. When Oracle held the reins the was a reason for LibreOffice and it was the only true open source suite. Now it appears we have two and this doesn't seem to be to anyone's advantage.
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