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Oracle drops OpenOffice from commercial software portfolio

15 Apr 2011

Oracle is dropping the OpenOffice application suite from its commercial software offerings, and handing the code to the open source community.

The company said in a statement that it will concentrate its open source efforts on MySQL and Linux, where there is a broad base of corporate and government support. Oracle did not say whether it will still invest in OpenOffice.

"Given the breadth of interest in free personal productivity applications, and the rapid evolution of personal computing technologies, we believe the project would be best managed by an organisation focused on serving that broad constituency on a non-commercial basis," said Edward Screven, Oracle's chief corporate architect.

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

OpenOffice began life as an attempt by Sun Microsystems to provide an open source alternative to Microsoft Office to support the ODF standard. The software was popular, sometimes outstripping the ability of Sun's servers to cope with demand.

But after the Oracle takeover of Sun the new management quickly fell out with the chief developers, leading them to decamp en masse to set up of a similar open source project called LibreOffice.

Oracle seemed unwilling to negotiate with the developers, and more have since joined LibreOffice from OpenOffice.

The move will probably be the end of the Sun-inspired project, or it may be possible to merge the remaining OpenOffice and LibreOffice teams. Oracle was unavailable for comment at time of going to press.

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Iain Thomson

Iain Thomson is the US editor of based in San Francisco. Iain has been a part of the team since 2002 and was previously technical editor of PC Magazine, reviews editor of PC Advisor and editor of Aviation Informatics. He also appears as an occasional commentator on BBC television and radio, ITV and Bloomberg.



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