Is OpenOffice Next In Oracle's Proprietary Plan?

by Ostatic Staff - Aug. 23, 2010

With Oracle's lawsuit against Google regarding parts of the Java code used in the Android OS drawing interpretation of many different kinds, many of the best columns I'm seeing about it conclude the same thing that we have: Oracle's open source credibility will be forever tarnished.  Canonical's Mark Shuttleworth has said as much. Many analysts are seeing that the implications of Oracle's suit stretch far beyond the issue it has with Android. And, as the blog notes, the OpenOffice suite of open source productivity applications is the next software asset that Oracle oversees to worry about.

Oracle's suit represents a classic example of how moves by a proprietary software company around an open (or in the case of Java, largely open) platform points to problems for all of open source. Mark Shuttleworth, in a missive to ZDNet, had this to say:

"Oracle has significantly undermined its relationship with the open source and developer community. That may or may not have an immediate impact on its bottom line, but it’s going to present real challenges for the pace of adoption of key Oracle technologies, like Java and MySQL, which have traditionally been led from the bottom up. Developers have been the drivers of adoption of open source platforms, and they will avoid platforms that look like patent traps."

Exactly. But Java and MySQL are hardly the only software assets that Oracle obtained in acquiring Sun Microsystems. The company has also become the steward o the OpenOffice suite of productivity applications, and could have designs on making that productivity suite closed source. As notes,  Oracle may even be claiming that it created OpenOffice, when in fact the open source community did. The site's post on the matter says:

"As much as I love OpenOffice, I HAVE TO now start looking for alternatives."

It may be too early to cast OpenOffice aside, but the concern is legitimate. If Oracle is banging the proprietary drums surrounding Java, why won't it do so regarding OpenOffice, which is used by millions of people? It won't be a surprise to see the productivity suite become the next patent issue that Oracle jumps on.