Oracle, LibreOffice: ideally a co-opetition, not competition

Oracle, LibreOffice: ideally a co-opetition, not competition

Summary: Choice is great. It's one of the key selling points of open source -- a guarantee that no one company can monopolize a software category, at least illegally.

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Choice is great. It's one of the key selling points of open source -- a guarantee that no one company can monopolize a software category, at least illegally.

It's what enabled the first official release today of LibreOffice 3.3, a version of OpenOffice sponsored by the recently formed Document Foundation. The foundation was formed in September by many leaders of the OpenOffice project, who were not too happy with the way megacorporation Oracle was running the show.

Oracle bought certain rights to OpenOffice assets when it acquired Sun -- but not the code itself. Again, therein lies the beauty of open source.  Microsoft's multimillions of Office users and developers worldwide never had such rights.

Nevertheless, on this milestone, it's important to underscore the need for Oracle and the Document Foundation to cooperate.  Both, after all,  have common rivals, and though each entity has different reasons for backing OpenOffice, both are underdogs in the fight.

Microsoft Office still overwhelmingly dominates the industry. And even if its time is coming, Google Docs is just emerging.

Co-opetition (cooperative competition) is great. It's natural for the Document Foundation and Oracle to engage in a bit of infighting.  But let's keep it to a minimum.

Both parties have an important part to play in the office suite/service battle, and the sum of the two is much stronger than one or the other.  Having two sponsors behind the project -- one proprietary and one purely open source -- gives OpenOffice the big bucks and competitive positioning it needs to go up against Microsoft and Google.

Oracle has strong brand identity in the corporate world.  I bet millions of corporate users and CIOs are made aware of the existence of OpenOffice and influenced by Oracle's promotion of OpenOffice on Java downloads daily.

Additionally, the creation of the Document Foundation -- led by the top execs and developers behind OpenOffice, as well as open source leaders FSF, Red Hat, Novell and Canonical -- gives the OpenOffice movement real clout and gives corporations and users the reassurance that there will be choice and development according to user needs.

Most importantly, the two OpenOffice backers must cooperate on the OpenOffice.next service. Office software will be used for some time to come but Office services are what's next. Microsoft and Google know this.

On this day, it's important for OpenOffice backers to realize who the real rivals are and what the next generation goal is.

Topics: Software, Collaboration, Open Source, Oracle

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23 comments
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  • Good story Paula!

    nt
    Dietrich T. Schmitz, ~ Your Linux Advocate
  • Not sure

    Oracle wants to monetize it as much as possible. That essentially means another MS Office type product. If the OO project can do a good enough job with LibreOffice, Oracle may be the loser in this fight. Who in their right mind would stop paying MS just to pay Oracle? As Oracle will probably have to do all the development work themselves, their costs will rise.<br><br>The cloud may change things, but I do not like Oracle's chances in this fight.
    Economister
    • Wouldnt that be the best option

      @Economister

      If they want to monetize it, then it means they want to earn a profit, which means they need to hire developers and work hard on improving the product. This means more paid work for open source developers..and this is a good thing.
      otaddy
    • Great story and well said :)

      I thought Oracle owned the money spinner in all this, the support contracts paid for by corporate organisations. Effectively all they had to do was sit back and let TDF develop LibreOffice (and perhaps OpenOffice too) perhaps chucking them a small percentage of income earned from their telephone and other traditional support.

      It's amazing that such a company as Oracle has failed to take advantage of it's ideal position.

      Regards form
      Tom :)
      Tom6
  • Nice spin

    This is a disastrous situation for Open Office as well as for LibreOffice. This is pure spin to hide the fact that it is going downhill from here.
    honeymonster
    • RE: Oracle, LibreOffice: ideally a co-opetition, not competition

      @honeymonster
      How is OpenOffice or LibreOffice going downhill?
      daikon
      • They're a follower

        @daikon <br><br>And they lag terribly behind MS Office and Google Apps (As little as they bring to the table).<br><br>They can start by getting rid of that hideous UI.
        The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • RE: Oracle, LibreOffice: ideally a co-opetition, not competition

        @daikon It's going downhill because it's just been forked/fragmented. At best, given this "LibreOffice" release is just a re-branded Go-OO, it stays that way: a few features patched into OpenOffice a few weeks after the new OO release. At worse, we're going to see the adding of incompatible spreadsheet functions and other features and we'll lose compatibility. This was all about politics and the need for FOSS to have some sort of "enemy". Nowadays when people giggle when they suggest that Microsoft is out to get them, they decided to turn Oracle into the new bugaboo and they're going to take OpenOffice down as a result. FOSS and Linux could be a major competitor if they consolidated their efforts instead of the perpetual fragmenting. I had a debate about this with a major advocate about this. It's always - I don't like this editor's keyboard layout - let me create a brand new editor from scratch, rather than contributing code to the existing editor! We end up with 2000 tires and no automobile.

        Those with issues with OpenOffice could have worked with Oracle to create a situation where their concerns were addressed without this fork. We don't need co-opitition when we're already the major underdog in the office software race. We need coopERATION. Hopefully the two parties will reunify before it's too late.
        jgm@...
  • more power to OSS

    Less power to M$!
    Linux Geek
    • RE: Oracle, LibreOffice: ideally a co-opetition, not competition

      @Linux Geek Last time I checked the saying was united we stand, divided we fall. Splitting up OpenOffice and LibreOffice looks like division to me.
      statuskwo5
    • RE: Oracle, LibreOffice: ideally a co-opetition, not competition

      @Linux Geek This FOSS as politics needs to end. Microsoft as the enemy disappeared not too long after the Soviet Union did. They're not out to get you. Oracle isn't out to get you. The only ones out to get us are ourselves, and we do a great job of it.
      jgm@...
  • Just to play devils advocate

    Perhaps competition would be best. Microsoft reacted to Open Office when OO was close to being competitive. OO was left without major improvements for quite a while as there wasn?t a real competitor in the wings from the Open Source side.

    Perhaps, just perhaps if Libre and Open Office competed to see who could keep the most users, that competitive drive could help them both catch up with MS??? NO, probably not. The drive of the almighty dollar will keep MS way ahead in features and customer support (always love the support boards, RTFM over and over again!)

    Oracle probably doesn?t have much interest in an Office Suite, that?s MS turf. The thought that after 15 years Open Office or Libre would even offer the basic features offered in MS office for years is a stretch of the imagination. Just think, something simple like an on-the-fly grammar checker.

    Yes I can hear the howls now about how that tool is a crutch for the weak willed, but it?s a feature not available on OO or Libre. It?s considered basic to the world of Office Suites, yet Open Source just can?t deliver.

    Ruthless, cutthroat competition between Libre and OO would be the best thing that could ever happen. Forget MS, compete in your own sphere, Open Source.

    Then again, even at free, Open Office was rejected over and over again. Good luck if you think OO or Libre will ever unseat MS, it shows how little you know about businesses and the way they work, just like Steven.
    Cynical99
    • Cynical99 - Fallacy of False Choices

      @Cynical99 - if you are going to post your thinking, please at least do a little thinking.

      Your simple presentation of a common error in reasoning, the False Choice fallacy, also known as the False Dichotomy, the Bifurcation fallacy, the Either-Or fallacy, the Fallacy of Negation, the False Dilemma, and for two common variants with three or four options respectively, the False Trichotomy and False Tetrachotomy...

      shows how little you know about the world and life and the way they work.

      Then again, even at free, your writing simply presents us with equal value for what we paid to read it: Nothing.

      In my opinion, it's been a total waste of my time to read your presentation of false choices.

      There are plenty more options. <b>If you choose to think.</b>
      sunworks
      • RE: Oracle, LibreOffice: ideally a co-opetition, not competition

        @sunworks

        next time, TRY TO SAY SOMETHING !!!!!

        we are all very glad you 'posted your thinking', it's most amusing that goes on inside your head !!
        Aussie_Troll
  • I hate to differ, but:

    3 things. Firstly, the more out-and-out determined competition Oracle gets from the Free Software community, the better. They deserve it. No need to minimise it.
    Second: Oracle /HAD/ a strong brand, but its looking tattered now. I'm sure anyone can figure out that Oracle they're greedy unprincipled muggers. There's no point in an Oracle employee even going to work, when their sole aim and purpose in life is to make a profit. Better to go out for a walk in the sun.
    Thirdly, if you're referring to some expected cloud version, forget it. Cloud is a BAD idea for anyone who values their own data, or their privacy.
    peter_erskine@...
    • RE: Oracle, LibreOffice: ideally a co-opetition, not competition

      @peter_erskine@...

      If you think Oracle once "had" a good brand, then I would be very interested to think what you think about Open Source as a "brand", how is that going for you ??

      how many years, have you guys been bashing OS ? and what have you got to show for it ?? what crown jewles has OSS come up with ?

      Why do the 'big boys' like the FSF have to rely on proprietary charity ? I guess it's because stallman cannot find a 'real' job... why should he, he's on a permanent holiday, on your coin ... 'suckers'
      Aussie_Troll
      • RE: Oracle, LibreOffice: ideally a co-opetition, not competition

        @Aussie_Troll seriously, you anti-Linux, anti-OSS trolls are really lame bottom feeders: Android, WebOS, Yahoo, Netflix, Wikipedia, The Worlds Stock Exchanges, Creative Commons, etc. etc OSS makes things possible without worrying about getting sued every time you want to grow and innovate, you don't have to ask permission for the greater good innovation. The world is evolving because of it and if for some reason you insist it doesn't you are a lost cause for conversation.
        myself_i
    • RE: Oracle, LibreOffice: ideally a co-opetition, not competition

      @peter_erskine@... This is the kind of thinking that pervades FOSS - software as politics. FOSS is the Tea Party of software.

      "Firstly, the more out-and-out determined competition Oracle gets from the Free Software community, the better. They deserve it."

      There's symptom #1: The need to have an enemy to hate. Most still think Microsoft is out to get them - witness the conspiracy stories that Microsoft somehow secretly bankrolled the purchased Novell instead of the company that did to destroy them (like Ballmer lies awake at night worrying about SUSE rather than iPhones, iPads, and Android). These are the software version of the people who still see "The Soviet Union" and "worldwide communism" behind everything.

      Second: "There's no point in an Oracle employee even going to work, when their sole aim and purpose in life is to make a profit."

      Gasp! They want to *earn a living*? The horror! Again, software is not a *cause*. Feeding starving children is a cause. The FOSS Tea Party needs to stop thinking they're on a Mission From God.

      "Thirdly, if you're referring to some expected cloud version, forget it. Cloud is a BAD idea for anyone who values their own data, or their privacy."

      This is a variant of #1, but it involves the unknown enemy. Who's coming for your data? Unless you're Oprah or Brad Pitt, who cares about you enough to invade your privacy?

      If the FOSS Tea Party would stop imagining they are fighting a noble cause against imaginary enemies, they would get some LEADERSHIP (another thing they hate), forcibly consolidate projects and up their game substantially. Firefox > Konquerer and always will be given the number of developers. Kill Konquerer and put the developers either on areas of KDE that need help (like Kontact) or on Firefox. And yes, it should be like entering the army - you work on what you're told to work on and you like it. Take anything that's good about KOffice (not much other than Krita and Kexi), add it to OpenOffice, then kill KOffice. Then you get Gnumeric to roll their improvements in as well and then kill that. Ditto for Gnome, etc. Next we consolidate/kill off many of the 2 billion Linux distros, etc. Moves like THAT are what FOSS needs, not the constant forking and imaginary threats to your "freedom" issuing from Mr. Stallman and his severe psychological problems. That's what someone would do who loves FOSS. Feeding the paranoia, fear, and anarchism is not helping.
      jgm@...
  • RE: Oracle, LibreOffice: ideally a co-opetition, not competition

    Twelve instances of the word 'OpenOffice' and just one 'LibreOffice' in this article of propaganda.

    Wake up and smell the agenda!
    WatchdogOne
    • RE: Oracle, LibreOffice: ideally a co-opetition, not competition

      @WatchdogOne
      The whole point of the article was to point out that Oracle does have some value to add to Open Office / Libre Office, despite the despotism involved... hence the title. Let Libre Office be free AND soak up the benefits of association!
      dzdrazil