Poor OpenOffice. It’s been open source for so long, and yet its adoption and market importance has always lagged far behind that of peer software like Linux – despite the fact that it’s free and implements a standard (ODF) aggressively promoted by some of the most powerful technology countries in the world. Can this ever change?
If yesterday’s announcement by IBM is any indication, the answer is “not likely,” despite the fact that Big Blue’s latest commitment to OpenOffice, on its surface, sounds like good news. The reason? It’s too little, and too late. Here’s why.
First, let’s start with the announcement. As reported in various venues (e.g., ComputerWorld, The Register and Heise Online), IBM will be donating the standalone source code for its ODF-compliant Lotus Symphony office suite to the Apache Foundation. As you’ll recall, Oracle became the owner of OpenOffice after acquiring Sun Microsystems. After issuing various mixed signals, Oracle officially decommitted to supporting OpenOffice, and contributed the code in early June (but not the trademark) to the Apache Foundation, where it can now be downloaded under version 2.0 of the permissive Apache License.