Oracle announced its intentions to discontinue the OpenOffice.org (OOo) suite of software on Friday 15th. The move does not come as a major surprise, following a 'fork' of the OpenOffice developers several months ago. The group who left OpenOffice.org development founded a 'vendor-neutral' group, known as The Document Foundation. The Document Foundation then began to develop an alternative to OpenOffice, known as LibreOffice. Unsurprisingly, the software suite is free, and is based upon the OpenOffice source code. Ars Technica provides coverage of how Oracle intends to progress without the OOo software in its arsenal.
Already, LibreOffice has gathered the support of commercial companies traditionally linked to OpenOffice - for example, Red Hat, Novell, Canonical, and Google have all moved their support towards The Document Foundation. The huge shift in support has left Oracle, quite literally, maintaining the open source software alone. It should come as no real surprise that Oracle have since considered and decided to end support for their software suite. When The Document Foundation was formed, they invited Oracle to give up the rights to the OpenOffice branding.
Oracle refused to hand over the rights to the OpenOffice product, and went a step further still, by attempting to pressure key members of The Document Foundation into resigning from their posts in OpenOffice.org development. The sheer popularity of LibreOffice has already convinced the developers of some Linux distributions to package it in their installations over the traditional OpenOffice software. Such is the popularity of LibreOffice that OpenOffice has ceased to be financially secure, meaning that Oracle no longer intends to continue to produce the software.
Oracle's position in the world of open-source software was shaken by the overnight surge in popularity for LibreOffice. Oracle sold a commercial version of OpenOffice, much like Sun Microsystems chose to do with StarOffice, another open-source office suite. While the significance of Oracle's submission to the power of The Document Foundation is quite surprising, it continues to leave questions hanging over the future of another Oracle project: Cloud Office. While the Cloud Office project used its own source code and was not built from OpenOffice, the future of the project is not guaranteed.
While many open-source office applications exist, OpenOffice.org is generally regarded as the most popular, due to its appearance in many different Linux distributions, including Ubuntu.