The Future of OpenOffice Looks Bleak

startup-officeWhen Microsoft moved away from Office suite software distribution to put this collection of programs into the cloud, it complicated purchasing for the average consumers. Most users, of course, are used to simply buying (or borrowing) the program one time and installing it. Now, [most versions of] Office requires a monthly/annual membership.

But on the other hand, the knowledge that some consumers may prefer that past model, some companies can step in to fill that gap. Apache Software, for example, has filled the niche with something known as OpenOffice. This is a project that utilizes open source programming to provide a free suit of office software to users throughout the world.

Unfortunately, OpenOffice is struggling; not that this is anything new. Open software programmers are at the disadvantage, of course, of not having the traditional backing of major distributors. Now, OpenOffice was, at one point, backed by the very popular and successful Sun Microsystems. However, when Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems, OpenOffice backing got cut from the budget. Obviously, Oracle has very little interest in maintaining the open source office suite and many of the original developers.

And they took the code with them, to create Libre Office.

Oddly—or maybe this was the strategy—Oracle eventually forfeited control of OpenOffice—to ASF—but by this point, the software had already been replaced by Libre Office in most Linux desktop applications.

As such, ASF has been faced with the possibility for shutting down OpenOffice for good, handing the brand over the The Document Foundation, which, funny enough, supports Libre Office.

With all this, Apache OpenOffice vice president Dennis Hamilton has very recently warned that without more volunteer developers, it looks like the project may, indeed, need to shut down. He says, “I have regularly observed that the Apache OpenOffice project has limited capacity for sustaining the project in an energetic manner. It is also my considered opinion that there is no ready capability, and will to supplement the roughly half-dozen volunteers holding the project together.”

He further explains that the complications are not just in a lack of developers. Hamilton warns that they lack the capacity to produce secure software too, and that they are not able to manage bug reports in a timely enough manner.

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