As you probably know, IBM has been involved with the OpenOffice.org community for many years. This included collaboration on ODF and accessibility at first, as we worked on our separate Lotus Symphony fork. And then in 2011 we followed the OpenOffice.org community to Apache where Apache OpenOffice then took off. Since then we’ve been merging in features and bug fixes from Symphony, essentially ending the Symphony fork. The first results of this collaboration showed up in Apache OpenOffice 4.0, with the new side panel UI. The reception of this new release has been phenomenal. The release received great reviews, including an 2013 InfoWord Best of Open Source (Bossie) award. The success of this release propelled us to recently hit a new download milestone: Over 75 million copies of Apache OpenOffice in the less than 18 months since the first release of Apache OpenOffice.
The overall market for office productivity suites is changing. Microsoft Office 2003 is hitting End of Life in April 2014, causing companies still using it to explore other options. The introduction of new subscription models from Microsoft, as well as emergence of new cloud-based editors from several players, including IBM, are also making customers reevaluate their dependency on Microsoft Office. Do we really need Office? For everyone? What are the alternatives?
I’m really pleased to see other parts of IBM starting to see the opportunities available with Apache OpenOffice. Already publicly announced include integrations with IBM Connections, IBM SmartCloud and IBM ECM and Case Manager. (If there are other IBM products that you think would benefit greatly from integration, let me know!)
The latest, and most significant, enabler of enterprise use of Apache OpenOffice is our IBM Support for Apache OpenOffice offering. Although individual end-users and even small businesses can easily deploy Apache OpenOffice on their own (75 million downloads testifies to that), larger enterprises with more complicated and demanding needs benefit from the kind of expertise that IBM can provide. So I’m glad to see this offering available to fill out the ecosystem, so everyone can use and be successful with Apache OpenOffice, from individual university students, to small non-profits, to large international corporations.