Over the weekend, Oracle basically announced its defeat in the competition with the community-created fork of OpenOffice, LibreOffice. Oracle will cease all commercial development of OpenOffice, and will turn it into a purely community-based project.
When Oracle acquired Sun, they didn’t really know how to handle the already troublesome community aspect of the software suite. There were already a number of problems when Sun was handling the project, and Oracle didn’t really address any of them. A number of community members had enough, and decided to fork the project into LibreOffice, governed by the then newly-formed Document Foundation.
Just about every major corporate interest followed the fork, leaving Oracle as pretty much the only one still investing in OpenOffice.org. Oracle then proceeded to make everything worse by not accepting an invitation from The Document Foundation, and by pressuring people with leadership roles in the OpenOffice project to step down if they involved themselves with TDF.
Now, though, it would seem Oracle has realised that it fighting a losing battle. “Given the breadth of interest in free personal productivity applications and the rapid evolution of personal computing technologies, we believe the OpenOffice.org project would be best managed by an organization focused on serving that broad constituency on a non-commercial basis,” said Edward Screven, chief corporate architect at Oracle, “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.”
Translation: “we thought we didn’t need that stupid community, and we thought we could do everything alone. Now, we are going to spin this as something good by claiming we’re going to hand over OpenOffice to the community, even though we technically are giving it back to the community.”
CEO: My last product was a complete and total failure.
Board: How big of a failure was it?
CEO: It was such a failure we had to open-source it.
Board: Ouch, you’re hired!