Apache OpenOffice Shutdown: Lack Of Volunteer Developers May Kill The Free Open-Source Office Suite

If you have been using computers for a long time, there is good chance that you might have come across or used OpenOffice at some point in your life. Well, the latest news is that the much loved open-source office suite may not last much longer, as it struggles to attract developers.

The news of OpenOffice’s current standing was revealed by none other than Dennis E. Hamilton, a volunteer vice president of the project who talked about a hypothetical shutdown of the project in an e-mail to OpenOffice developers on Thursday, Fortune reports. The e-mail thread was titled an ominous sounding “What would OpenOffice retirement involve?” and several people had replied to it.

The fact that there is a serious lack of interest among volunteer developers to keep the project running is evident by the fact that OpenOffice hasn’t seen an update since October 2015 – almost a year ago. While the software remains usable, many users are now worried about the various security issues these lack of updates may cause. In fact, several vulnerabilities with OpenOffice that were pointed out by security experts remains unplugged at this point. This is also one of the reasons people flocked towards LibreOffice which is more frequently updated. Some of them simply chose to get themselves a copy of Microsoft Office.

While the software remains usable, many users are now worried about the various security issues these lack of updates may cause. In fact, several vulnerabilities with OpenOffice that were pointed out by security experts remains unplugged at this point. That is also one of the reasons people flocked towards LibreOffice which is more frequently updated. Some of them simply chose to get themselves a copy of Microsoft Office.

For the uninitiated, here is a bit of history regarding OpenOffice. What went on to become one of the most popular open source office suites out there, for all practical purposes, began an open sourced version of StarOffice that Sun Microsystems had acquired in 1999 for their internal use. However, upon seeing a potential competitor to Microsoft Office, Sun Microsystems open-sourced the software in July 2000 and released it to the general populace. The first version of OpenOffice arrived in July 2002 and development on the product continued for almost a decade – until 2011. In the same year, Oracle, who owned Sun Microsystems announced that they would no longer continue offering a commercial version of OpenOffice and donated the entire project to the Apache foundation which currently manages the project.

What went on to become one of the most popular open source office suites out there, for all practical purposes, began an open-sourced version of StarOffice that Sun Microsystems had acquired in 1999 for their internal use. However, upon seeing a potential competitor to Microsoft Office, Sun Microsystems open-sourced the software in July 2000 and released it to the general populace. The first version of OpenOffice arrived in July 2002 and development on the product continued for almost a decade – until 2011. In the same year, Oracle, who owned Sun Microsystems announced that they would no longer continue offering a commercial version of OpenOffice and donated the entire project to the Apache foundation which currently manages the project.

The first version of OpenOffice arrived in July 2002 and development on the product continued for almost a decade until 2011. In the same year, Oracle, who owned Sun Microsystems, announced that they would no longer continue offering a commercial version of OpenOffice and donated the entire project to the Apache foundation, which currently manages the project.

That can be considered to be the beginning of the downfall of OpenOffice.

After OpenOffice came to them, the Apache Foundation changed its name to Apache OpenOffice and continued the open-source project as before. However, around the same time work began on other active projects like LibreOffice and NeoOffice. Since then, LibreOffice seemed to have taken over the mantle from OpenOffice and currently dominates the open-source office suite market. LibreOffice is also currently the most actively developed open-source office suite available. Apache OpenOffice, on the other hand, seems to be looking at the end of its lifespan, at least going by the email that was mentioned earlier. The arrival of free, web-based office apps like Google Docs also didn’t help OpenOffice’s cause. In the e-mail, Hamilton addresses the security issues as well.

“Needing to disclose security vulnerabilities for which there is no mitigation in an update has become a serious issue.”

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You can read the entire e-mail thread here.

Other replies to the thread talked about the things that would happen when and if the OpenOffice project shut down for good. Things like where the code would be archived and how to go about the entire process of shutting down.

Even though LibreOffice is now massively popular, a fairly large section of people still swear by OpenOffice and many of them are unhappy with the talks of the project being killed.

Have you ever used OpenOffice in the past? If so, have you switched to any other office suite? Are you unhappy about the fact that a project like OpenOffice is now on the verge of a shutdown? Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below!

[Image Via OpenOffice]