back to article Ellison's Oracle washes hands of OpenOffice

Oracle is turning OpenOffice into a purely community project, and no longer plans to offer a commercial version of the collaboration suite loved by many. The database giant said on Friday that it believed OpenOffice would be best managed by an organization focused on serving the broad constituency on a non-commercial basis. …


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  1. Robert E A Harvey

    Well, that's the other shoe.

    Hands up who was not expecting this.

  2. stewski

    We've already got one!

    Washing their hands is great, we all moved to libre office anyway!

    1. BobChip

      And another one....

      Having used OO for some years, I made the switch to LibreOffice just two weeks ago, feeing I would see better commitment to product develpment and stability. Looks like I did the right thing. And it is a pretty good suite as well, with some distinct improvements on OO. Happy bunny!

    2. maclovinz

      Yep, me too, it's the same thing....

      Except it loads everything MUCH faster!

  3. Anonymous Coward

    IBM's fingerprints seems a likely theory

    You didn't mention that IBM has already made a Java (Eclipse) based version of OpenOffice ( that is currently in Beta for the Google-type web experience on their cloud Messaging and Collaboration offering.

    A quid pro quo from IBM for their backing in the dispute against the Apache Foundation perhaps... or am I just being cynical?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mixed feelings?

    On the one hand, it's great news to hear Open Office is becoming fully open (and the newest 3.4 beta seems to be setting a lot of priorities straight, like SVG import, for example), and that StarOffice/Oracle Open Office are becoming discontinued, since it will allow more focus on the open version, without looking for commercial differentiation.

    And with Open Office trademark now sorted out, it seems, Open Office could drop the .org wart.

    On the other hand, however, losing Cloud Office is a major step back. Unless Oracle plans to release the cloud integration features present in StarOffice and Oracle Open Office to the OOo version, we're losing a very potent competitor to Google Docs on the one side and MS Office on the other in terms of collaboration.

    1. Anonymous IV

      .org wart?

      Some sort of magic, perhaps?

  5. Ole Juul

    I wonder

    Is this going to really benefit the community, or will it just take the steam out of Libre, or fragment resources? Sorry for being cynical, but I never really trust Oracle.

    1. maclovinz


      then use Libre....

      ...if you never trust Oracle.

  6. Eddy Ito

    Sounds familiar

    So bolting the barn door after the horse has bolted. The Oracle of Delphi they aren't.

  7. Smudge@mcr

    The war is over

    Oracle waged war on the FOSS community and lost.

    Most Linux distro's have already moved to Libre Office and will stay as that is where the active development is happening.

    Oracle are just trying to save face after their appalling behaviour towards the community .

    Try saying sorry Larry.

  8. Adam Trickett

    Oracle may be arrogant and stubborn but they are rich

    Oracle may be a very arrogant organisation but they are very rich so they must do something right!

    Perhaps the best thing to do is swallow their pride and give the OpenOffice trademarks to the Document Foundation, chip in a few staff and some dosh and stop worrying. In the long run if they are not interested they are better off releasing the name OpenOffice so it can be used and loved, rather than letting it fester in a corner of their vast empire.

    While it may hurt their pride they will get more friends by doing the right thing... Plus anything that annoys Microsoft usually cheers up Oracle.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Why Oracle are rich

      Oracle are rich, yes. And it's because they are doing something very well, yes. But I think you'll find that's it's a something that can hardly be called "right".

      Just get a major Oracle customer to talk off-the-record. Or an ex-Oracle customer to talk on-the-record.

      Me, I interviewed with 'em nearly 3 decades ago when they had tiny offices in Richmond, Surrey. Something didn't feel quite right with them way back then.

  9. zanto

    eating crow

    while basking on a yacht is still eating crow.

    1. BorkedAgain

      Never done either,

      but I'm guessing crow probably tastes better on a yacht. Especially washed down with the finest wines available to humanity. Just saying...

      1. John Bailey


        It still tastes like crow.

  10. Newbrie

    Ceding control to gain command

    I think that this article has got the wrong end of the stick. This decision is not about Oracle completing another step in their plan to kill open source, but a complete about turn and full marks to the big guys for doing so. Oracle executives have taken a little longer than expected (18 months) to understand how to monetize open source software, ie.not at the coal face but further down the value chain. They have realised that you can't seize control of OSS without risking the rug being pulled from under you by other members of the community. Better to focus on the standards which open source supports (in this case ODF) and how this can underpin and unify the bigger enterprise support picture, where ORACLE rule supreme.

    1. Paul Shirley

      they gambled on branding beating features

      You've missed something obvious: OO *was already being successfully monetised by Sun*. They could do it because they were able to block inclusion of features in mainline OO, leaving scope for creating enhanced versions for sale.

      While there were forks and 3rd party enhancements available outside the OO umbrella they remained minor players with little awareness. When the LibreOffice fork happened that changed, the enhancements started folding back into a fork with reasonably strong brand awareness.

      Oracle gambled they would walk away from a fork with the better brand but forgot all the higher end features Sun's control had been blocking. From then on it was going to be a continual battle to stop their paying customers noticing they could have the same enhancements free from Libre Office.

      The exact terms of surrender are going to determine whether anything comes of this. Closing down their other lines does suggest they've realised they cannot regain control, all there's left is appeasing pissed of developers.

      1. Numpty

        Nope, not obvious

        Sun never did any such thing. The only things in StarOffice that weren't in were license-encumbered features like commercial fonts and dictionaries.

  11. mr0c

    Seems the Italians still have Oracle Office love ;-)

    Probably not for long ...

  12. E 2

    Now I know...

    why the OO in my recent OpenSUSE 11.4 install is called "Libre Office".

  13. ziggy

    Wrong Title - community washes its hands of Oracle

    the developers and users and major distributions of open source OS have largely already left OpenOffice and went to LibreOffice, this is just Oracle realizing there is no point continuing after the loss of goodwill, developers, users, customers. Open Office was already dead, Oracle killed it. LibreOffice is of higher quality.

  14. FanMan
    Gates Halo

    Who cares

    Who cares. I've tried all the open spreadsheet programmes available (for Mac) and they're all pants. I slid back over Excel (2011) with relief and pleasure.

    Some things are best left to the professionals. Thanks Bill!

    1. Anonymous Coward

      FanMan Fail

      Clearly you haven't tried NeoOffice. As a long term user of Excel, I happily use NeoOffice on my Mac.

    2. Ed Vim

      Who cares...

      >> Some things are best left to the professionals. Thanks Bill!

      Actually quite a few more enlightened and less self-centered people do care. Your love for MS Office is fine for you, but some of us prefer to support projects following Open Source ideology. Now that I've sank to your level of being a patronizing, trollish dupe I've got to stop and my apologies to all who even bothered to read this.

    3. fixit_f

      I really wanted to like open office, I really did.

      But anything that can't handle more then 32k rows in a spreadsheet is no good to me, we produce huge csv extracts at work. Is there any open source software out there that can handle the same number of rows that Excel can?

      1. Woodgar

        RE:I really wanted to like open office, I really did

        Err... have you tried Open Office?

        The current version can do this.

        1. fixit_f
          Thumb Up

          Ooh, really?

          I tried it last year and that restriction was still in place, must be a fairly recent addition. I shall give Libre Office a go (presume this change will have been forked in)

      2. AJ MacLeod

        Max rows

        LibreOffice can apparently handle a million... funnily enough I seem to recall that it's only very Excel has been able to handle anything like that, eventually catching up to ancient versions of Quattro Pro...

        1. Chemist

          LibreOffice can apparently handle a million


          I used to handle 6-7 million rows in JMP but at that time Excel could manage 64k. JMP ran on Linux as well.

  15. hydrasworld

    Trademark issues

    Of note, there's been a recent split from Oracle for the Hudson project too, now known as Jenkins - Oracle want to retain the Hudson trademark so the developers forked it and renamed it - most of the plugin developers jumped ship to Jenkins and our new CI runs Jenkins not Hudson. Read more here:

  16. Lunatik

    Inconsequential edge-twiddling

    Until someone other than Microsoft can offer a suite with baked-in scripting à la VBA then the process of shifting the millions of vital 'hidden' systems off the MS Office bandwagon cannot even start. This means diversions like OpenOffice or Office Libre are a non-starter in many core industries where ancient VBA and interop are relied upon to a (very) surprising degree.

    With MS themselves seemingly unable/unwilling to commit to a future where scripting from within Office components seems like part of the Big Picture, the time is ripe for a well organised OOS project to steal the crown. MS are almost begging for it.

    1. Is it me?

      Well, Perhaps

      But then, how many normal office suite users actually use VBA, I use Open Office at home, and I can't think of any reason I'd need VBA or any scripting.

      1. Steve Gill


        Those Big Company (tm) users ARE the normal office suite users. They probably don't know they're using VBA but most are using it quite regularly.

    2. A J Stiles

      It's bull**** about VBA

      *Most* Excel users don't use VBA. In fact, *most* Excel users don't even know how to enter a formula into a spreadsheet -- I've seen too many people adding up columns of figures with a calculator and entering the result to into the spreadsheet, to write this off as an anomaly.

      1. Swarthy

        As you say, but...

        The average user of Excel doesn't script in VBA, but they will use the *crap* out of "self-calculating" spreadsheets that someone else wrote. I have worked with enough "Excel Databases" to know them, and to loathe them; and to agree with the OP, that until there is a decent scripting and interoperability back-end, MS Office wins...sadly.

    3. Steve Foster

      @Inconsequential Edge-Twiddling

      Erm... OO/LO *does* have scripting (OO Basic). Not only that, but it supports VBA too (admittedly in an incomplete fashion). I've got some XLS files with VBA in them that just work in OO/LO. I have others where OO/LO barfs on the VBA (it still loads it though!).

  17. Anonymous Coward


    "Oracle to swallow some pride and cut OpenOffice lose" and "interface development that nobody care's about".


    1. Paul M 1


      I know. "Loose" for "lose" I've almost stopped noticing on the web as it's so common but "lose" for "loose"?!?

      Apostrophes I can forgive ( i make enough typos myself).

  18. RightPaddock

    Two Years Too Late

    Oracle acquired Sun because a lot of mission critical line of business applications in the financial services sector run on Sun servers running Oracle's database software.

    Oracle should have given OOo, MySQL, Java etc the flick on the day after the deal with Sun was signed. Those things just aren't Oracles core business, their customers outside Europe will be happy to see OOo walk out the door.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I can hear the indignant cry of Larry in the pub...

    No! I dumped them!

    (The retort of all those ditched by their other-half)

  20. Displacement Activity

    Maybe there's another reason...

    ...Oracle realised that OpenOffice really isn't that good, and wanted to move on.

    I tried, a lot. It's a sad fact that MS Office 2000 is just better.

  21. maclovinz

    Four year jump issues...

    The only issue is that sometimes, when copying and pasting data into Libre/Neo/OpenOffice, is that if coming from certain spreadsheets, it will change the dates by four years. It seems that this issue has yet to be figured out.

    We are an insurance business, and realized this "relatively" soon after starting use of Neo...thankfully!

  22. Tom Samplonius

    32K rows in OO?

    @fixit_f: "But anything that can't handle more then 32k rows in a spreadsheet is no good to me"

    @fixit_f: "I tried it last year and that restriction was still in place, must be a fairly recent addition"

    In OpenOffice 2.2, the limit was actually 65,536, not 32K. Versions over 4 years old were limited to 32K rows.

    The limit in OpenOffice 3.3 is now a million rows (

    And LibreOffice 3.3 has the same capability. A lot if made of how "better" LibreOffice is, but it feels just it is just open washing.

  23. irneb

    Excel? Huh?

    You want to compare MSO' Excel to OO.Calc? And then come up with MSO is better? You've clearly not used Calc at all, or if you had it was in version 2 or prior. Even then it was surpassing the prevailing version of Excel. The only point where Excel works and Calc doesn't is when formatting Engineering notation instead of scientific. And I like Excel's table formatting from 2007 and up more than that of Calc. As for limits on rows, you're just WRONG! And in any case, why would you force yourself into a program which would use huge quantities of RAM to work with 1000's of rows of data (Excel and Calc loads the entire spreadsheet into RAM). If I was you, I'd start looking at Access.

    Now if you used any of 2 other MSO-Pro programs as comparison, then I could possibly sympathise: Access is simply MILES ahead of OO.Base, and Powerpoint is a bit easier to use than OO.Impress. But for everything else OO kicks MSO's @$$ in nearly every aspect of each. Not to mention OO at least HAS a decent vector drawing program.

    As for the topic, I think it might be a good thing if Oracle lets the OO brand name go so it can be re-incorporated into LibreOffice. This for the only reason that the name already has a following. That following would either switch to LO (if they know of it) or to something else (if they don't). But if LO is rebranded back as OO then this would become a non-issue.

  24. douglas dooley
    Thumb Up


    this should be the fate of Glassfish, as well,

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