Apache OpenOffice, LibreOffice aim for Office 2013, cloud support in '13, '14

Apache OpenOffice is expecting to release its 3.5 version in the first quarter of 2013 with improved Microsoft Office 2007/2010/2013 interoperability and later a 4.0 with next gen features. Meanwhile, tablet and cloud versions of LibreOffice are also underway.
Written by Paula Rooney, Contributor

The two key developers of OpenOffice -- Apache OpenOffice and LibreOffice -- are opening up a wee bit about their next versions. And yes, Office 2013, the cloud, social networks and tablets are on the minds of the open source office suite developers. 

Apache OpenOffice 3.5, slated for delivery in the first quarter of 2013, will offer better interoperability with Microsoft Office 2007-2013 XML formats, as well as enhanced performance, stability, usability and more language support, according to the OpenOffice.org blog.

Version 4.0 will follow will some of the features of the IBM Lotus Symphony code donated this year to the Apache Foundation. 

Rob Weir, an IBMer involved with Apache OpenOffice, said users are most interested in Office interoperability and user interface improvements, but he added that cloud-enabling the suite and making it easier to use with social networks and in enterprise settings are also important areas of focuss. 

"The top ideas received so far are for improved Microsoft interop, especially with the
Office 2007-2013 XML formats.  So that is a core focus for the next release," Weir wrote in an email to this blogger. "There were also a good number of comments and votes regarding the user interface and general desire to freshen it, make it more modern.  So we're putting together a proposal for how we can do that.   This might include some UI enhancements from Symphony as well."

Weir said offering support for standards is one way to better cloud-enable OpenOffice.
"As for the cloud-enabled stuff, I think it is important to distinguish between enhancements that are based on open standards and are generally useful, versus things that are applicable to just a single vendor.  I'm interested in enabling Apache OpenOffice support for
standards like OpenSocial, CMIS and OData," he wrote.

"Adding this support is generally good for the ecosystem.  It also helps enable extension authors to take advantage of this support to write 3rd party extensions that help bridge OpenOffice and 3rd party clouds and collaboration servers.  So again the idea is to push the support of relevant open standards into the core product, which then enables third parties to use that support to more easily connect OpenOffice to enterprise services.   That said, there are certain ubiquitous consumer services that it might make sense to support right out of the box, Twitter, Facebook, DropBox, etc."

He said making "OpenOffice easier to deploy and maintain in large installation environments" is also something being looked at. "So install automation, customization of installs, ability for IT departments to bundle and automatically install extensions, ways of doing incremental
updates,etc., are things that we're looking at," Weir wrote.

Meanwhile, The Document Foundation, which yesterday announced its second anniversary, lauded the release of versions 3.5 and 3.6 in 2012 and tipped its hat at next generation offerings for the cloud and BYOD wave.

"TDF has shown the prototypes of a cloud and a tablet version of LibreOffice, which will be available sometime in late 2013 or early 2014," wrote Italo Vignoli, a spokesman for The Doucment Foundation. 



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