Can OpenOffice.org regain momentum?

OpenOffice.org is drifting. It's going nowhere fast, neither up nor down, neither forward nor backwards. Since Sun was acquired by Oracle this drift has only become more apparent.

I'm less of a Google or Apple fanboy than I am an OpenOffice.org fanboy.

It's one of the greatest values in consumer open source, ever. Here are all the basic productivity tools you need, in one place, free for the download. They update it, too.

But OpenOffice.org is drifting. It's going nowhere fast, neither up nor down, neither forward nor backwards. Since Sun was acquired by Oracle this drift has only become more apparent.

The latest evidence, from my friend Roberto Galoppini in Rome, is word that the Free Software Foundation has felt moved to create its own list of OpenOffice.org extensions, on its LibrePlanet wiki.

The release from Peter Brown is polite. "The FSF asked the OpenOffice.org Community Council to list only free software extensions, or to provide a second independent listing which only included free extensions, but they declined to change their policy."

Want more evidence? OpenOffice has issued a call to papers for its annual conference. In Budapest. Hungary. Lovely town (actually two lovely towns, Buda and Pest) but no one's idea of the center of the tech universe. The Hilton at Dar es Salaam was taken?

That's not just snark. Like desktop Linux, OpenOffice.org is placing great stress on new markets like Africa. Here, for instance, it's loaded onto a Netbook with 16 GBytes of chip memory, designed for WiFi access, and offered by a mobile carrier at a monthly fee, bundled with the service. Sweet.

But that's the work of the carrier, and perhaps some clever African entrepreneur who put the deal together. Someone equally clever needs to get command of OpenOffice.org.

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