Is OpenOffice Doomed?

by Charles Miller on April 9, 2004

I was reading a few Microsofty blogs the other day, and their take on the Sun settlement was decidedly different than you see in Java-land. I think the general tone was something like: "$1.6 BILLION? What can Sun possibly have that's worth $1.6 billion to Microsoft?"

Now call me a cynic, but I can't help wondering if the next year will see a less aggressive, more financially responsible Sun cutting back on projects that are unprofitable and that only exist as a weapon against a company they are no longer in pitched battle with. Projects like, say,

OpenOffice and StarOffice have both been gaining steady momentum in the past year: being rolled out in several big companies as a Microsoft Office replacement. Even in companies that haven't moved to OO.o, its existence has been used as a bargaining chip to push back against Microsoft's more "interesting" licensing plans.

There wouldn't have to be anything as sordid as a conspiracy. It's just a logical move, now that the lawsuit is settled, for projects to be moved to the back burner that existed solely as a weapon against Microsoft in markets Sun has no reason to compete. Sun know in their hearts that they're a server company, and they're not really comfortable with any software that isn't part of Solaris.

OO.o's front page news ticker links to this article in which Sun reiterates its support for Open Source despite the Microsoft settlement... except somehow they do so without once mentioning the project they support that most directly competes with Redmond's own.

What is the current extent of Sun's contribution to OO.o? I can't tell, but given how much of OO.o's news-ticker is taken up with articles about the Sun/Microsoft settlement, I'd imagine it's still pretty significant. Could OO.o continute to be a viable project without Sun's support? I honestly don't know. I would hope so.

Previously: Dear Microsoft

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