What are OpenOffice backers doing for cloud/mobile era?

As enterprises consider alternatives to Microsoft Office in the cloud era, Google is zipping along with Enterprise Apps and now QuickOffice and IBM has IBM Docs in beta but all is fairly quiet on the OpenOffice mobile/cloud front. Xform Computing is one developer trying to take OpenOffice to the mobile masses.
Written by Paula Rooney, Contributor on

Google's advancement with Enterprise Apps and acquisition of QuickOffice today makes one wonder what's happening with OpenOffice in the cloud/mobile era.

Not a whole lot right now. Apache OpenOffice 3.4, which debuted last month under the Apache 2.0 license, only yesterday announced the official new branding and logo for the new open source Office suite.

Don Harbison, a member of the Apache OpenOffice project management committee, told me in a recent email that the tools are up for grabs but he did not say if there are any developers working on an online incarnation.
"At a macro level open source projects depend on open standards. Now that OpenOffice is licensed AL2, all of the APIs and code of value is available to anyone wishing to integrate data sources with an office document runtime, is more than welcome to do so," Harbison wrote.
IBM plans to release its own Apache OpenOffice IBM Edition suite when Apache OpenOffice 4.0 ships (expected in Q4 2012) for the desktop but now has in beta testing a new Office productivity suite for the cloud and on-premise called IBM Docs.
IBM Docs will not be based on OpenOffice but it will support the Open Document Format and Microsoft Office file formats, IBM says.
The Document Foundation's LibreOffice, the other major OpenOffice organization, has a prototype available but no plans to push into the online market.
In an email response to this blogger's questions, SUSE engineer Michael Meeks -- a longtime OpenOffice backer -- said the code is ready and available for any would-be developers.
"As of the present time, SUSE has no immediate plans to create both the hosting and payment infrastructure to provide an enterprise SaaS Office suite offering. From the perspective of The Document Foundation, it’s important there exist a neutral, light-weight, non-profit venue for enterprises of all sizes to collaborate on developing the code - and as such would tend to avoid directly providing such services ourselves.

That said, we have created a prototype of LibreOffice online, which you can see here, however this work is currently still progressing through the prototype stage. The code is all publicly available, is free software and we encourage others to co-invest in it to make it more generally useful. There are clearly wide application possibilities of that in a SaaS context, embedding it into CMS systems, and other general web applications."

Xform Computing is one such developer using OpenOffice in its AlwaysOnPC Desktop-as-a-Service offering for iPhone and iPads and Android devices.

Like QuickOffice, xForm's OpenOffice derivative, called PowerOffice, allows users to open and edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint document from their mobile devices. This interoperability, which OpenOffice developers have worked on for many years, is critical for ensuring success among business customers.

Open source has led innovation in the technology sector for more than a decade, but success on the desktop remains elusive. Perhaps this time around, OpenOffice's robust interoperability and maturity will make it a great play as enterprises consider viable alternatives to Microsoft Office in the cloud era.

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