Oracle axes all commercial offerings of OpenOffice
Most people may not know it, but Oracle actually sells a commercial version of the OpenOffice office productivity suite that featured several proprietary components layered over the free software suite in order to deliver a more complete 'out-of-the-box' computing experience for various users such as businesses and enterprises. However, that commercial version of OpenOffice is set to be given the whole heave-ho from the likes of Oracle themselves, for the company has announced in a blog post that it intends to relinquish control over OpenOffice – by turning it into a "purely community-based project".
Speak of the name 'OpenOffice' and most people will immediately think of the free and open-source office productivity suite of the same name, which is currently the world's second most popular office productivity suite after that of Microsoft Office. In fact, so extensive is Oracle's OpenOffice productivity suite that the software even has its own fair share of forks based off its original source code, of which the commercial (and proprietary) Oracle Open Office is a good example of. Marketed directly by Oracle, it boasted several features usually absent in the free OpenOffice suite due to copyright and legal issues, such as support for various Microsoft Office-centric features and proprietary fonts.
However, it seems that Oracle has decided that maintaining the proprietary Oracle Open Office is a task that involves more effort and resources that it is willing to commit to, has since taken steps to reduce its workload by giving the open-source community more say in the OpenOffice project. To that end, Oracle has announced in a blog posting that the company intends to "move OpenOffice.org to a purely community-based open source project and to no longer offer a commercial version of Open Office".
Indeed, a quick search for Oracle Open Office and Oracle Cloud Office on the company's website have turned up nothing, which suggests that Oracle has already taken been hard at work behind the scenes to axe every single known commercial offering of OpenOffice that it used to offer.
That being said, there is a lot about the eventual fate of OpenOffice which Oracle clearly left unsaid in its official announcement. For one, Screven only mentioned that the company will work with community developers to ensure that OpenOffice remains successful without providing any details about Oracle's next course of action. Needless to say, questions about governance are definitely going to be raised, and developers who have been burnt by Oracle's hostility in a number of open source projects will understandably be wary of the company's move.
More importantly, the issue regarding the ownership of the OpenOffice trademark was left un-addressed in Oracle's announcement, and this issue will definitely be a bone of contention for those who feel that the company should relinquish its claim over the trademark as a sign of its goodwill. After all, most people will remember how Oracle refused to donate the trademark to the Document Foundation, an organization which was responsible for creating a community-driven fork of the productivity suite known as LibreOffice, and insisted that its founding developers leave OpenOffice. With OpenOffice now a fully community-driven project, whether the Document Foundation will be given the rights to use the OpenOffice trademark remains to be seen. Alternatively, it is also possible that the Document Foundation may merge with the new OpenOffice board to deliver a single office productivity suite under the OpenOffice banner. Well, we shall wait and see.