Oracle hands OpenOffice to the open-source community

April 18, 2011 – 08:03 by in News Print Share No Comment

Oracle has announced that it’s to discontinue commercial development of the OpenOffice suite, handing it back to the open-source community for future development. The news has been anticipated for some time, ever since The Document Foundation was set up to try and prevent a single company dominating the development of OpenOffice, a response to Oracle’s purchase of Sun Microsystems, who previously owned the open-source project.

The news coincides with the announcement that rival office package, LibreOffice, which branched off from OpenOffice six months ago, has announced the launch of a beta version 3.4.

The beginning of the end for OpenOffice can probably be traced back to the founding of The Document Foundation, a non-profit organisation created to try and ensure the OpenOffice profit was under the stewardship of a vendor-neutral body. Oracle was originally invited to participate, but its refusal to do so led to the creation of LibreOffice, which immediately led to a significant number of independent contributors defecting from the OpenOffice project to LibreOffice.

When prominent companies such as Google, Red Hat and Novell also moved to back The Document Foundation, Oracle found itself standing alone as the only commercial organisation involved with developing OpenOffice. This has led it to abandoning plans to develop a commercial version of the software, and also leaves a doubt over the future of its own cloud-based Office project.

Now that OpenOffice has been handed back to the community, question marks will inevitably emerge over whether it and LibreOffice will continue as separate projects, or whether they’ll be merged together, presumably under the OpenOffice banner.

Get the software
Both OpenOffice and LibreOffice run on Mac, Windows and Linux. OpenOffice Portable and LibreOffice Portable are also available, both of which can be run direct from USB flash drive. Other free office suites based on the OpenOffice project include IBM’s Lotus Symphony and OxygenOffice Professional.

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