Comparing OpenOffice and LibreOffice

Heavyweight Battle

© Lead Image © algolonline, 123RF.com

© Lead Image © algolonline, 123RF.com

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The development paths of OpenOffice and LibreOffice parted in 2010. Which of the two office suites is leading the way?

In May 2002, the first version of OpenOffice.org [1] appeared. Finally, Linux had a complete FOSS office suite that also suited professional requirements. Sun Microsystems sponsored the project and ensured its continuous development, and OpenOffice remained in calm waters until Sun was acquired by Oracle in 2010. The new owner of OpenOffice did not support the project as fully as Sun and kept its future development under wraps.

This uncertainty about continued support prompted some leading developers to create a fork of the OpenOffice.org project in September 2010. They formed the Document Foundation and developed what was the current version of OpenOffice at the time, under the name LibreOffice [2]. They quickly published the first version, although this was only rebadging, simply to demonstrate that the project was alive.

Oracle eventually decided not to continue the OpenOffice project and handed over the source code to the Apache Software Foundation in 2011 [3]. Since that time, IBM has taken the lead on OpenOffice development. IBM, which outfits and maintains millions of corporate desktops, recognized a need to maintain some control of over the evolution the OpenOffice, and to avoid doubling their efforts, they even stopped working on their own Lotus Symphony suite to focus on OpenOffice. Big Blue has now begun merging parts of Symphony into OpenOffice, including the side panel user interface component, which makes its OO debut in the latest release.

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