Oracle Cares About Some Sun-Acquired Assets, But OpenOffice? Not So Much

by Ostatic Staff - Apr. 18, 2011

Soon after Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems last year, we began to wonder what the fate of the OpenOffice suite of productivity applications might be under Oracle. Of course, the suite's fate has gone in surprising new directions since then, but it now looks like Oracle is officially jettisoning management of it. In a brief statement, Oracle chief corporate architect Edward Screve has made clear that OpenOffice will become a purely community-driven project, and Oracle will apparently not offer a commercial version of the suite.

The Register noted Screve's statement:

 "We intend to begin working immediately with community members to further the continued success of Open Office...Oracle will continue to strongly support the adoption of open standards-based document formats, such as the Open Document Format (ODF)."

When asked by The Register if Oracle might turn the suite over to a completly new organization or if it is talking to the Document Foundation, Screve declined to comment. Oracle can still command various aspects of OpenOffice, as it owns the trademark to the suite, but it looks entirely likely that community-driven development is the future for the suite. Meanwhile, LibreOffice has been steadily updated and is gaining traction. 

As for the Open Document Founation, it has widespread support from many tech giants, ranging from Google to Red Hat. The truth is, OpenOffice has been heading toward a forked future for years. Novell has backed development of a fork of OpenOffice called go-oo, which we covered here. It's generally lighter and faster than OpenOffice. LibreOffice continues to win many users over. 

It remains to be seen exactly how Oracle will handle OpenOffice going forward, but it seems clear that in giving the nod to community development, the software giant doesn't see OpenOffice as a crown jewel in its enterprise strategy. Meanwhile, Microsoft is proceeding quickly with its strategy to win enterprise users for its cloud-based version of its Office suite, which has entered a new beta cycle

One thing's for sure: If you harbored any notion that Oracle's vast funds and marketing resources might drive OpenOffice to new heights, that appears entirely unlikely. OpenOffice will depend on contributors for its advancements.