Microsoft Office alternative OpenOffice anticipates shutdown

Khushaar Tanveer avatar. By: Khushaar Tanveer
3 minute read
OpenOffice

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Once considered the first Microsoft Office, OpenOffice is facing some dark days. Volunteer Vice President Dennis E. Hamilton outlined in an email to the team on Thursday stating that due to the lack of volunteer developers, OpenOffice, the free Microsoft Office alternative, might face a shutdown.

Since the platform is failing to attract development manpower, there aren’t enough people working on keeping the software secure and to deliver security fixes and updates on a regular basis.

“I have regularly observed that the Apache OpenOffice project has limited capacity for sustaining the project in an energetic manner. It is also my considered opinion that there is no ready supply of developers who have the capacity, capability, and will to supplement the roughly half-dozen volunteers holding the project together. It doesn’t matter what the reasons for that might be,” Dennis E. Hamilton stated.

According to Hamilton’s email, the immediate problem is a scarcity of volunteers that has made it extremely difficult to fix and update the known vulnerabilities of the software. Hamilton refers to the shutdown as a “serious possibility” and while might not openly disclose the reason volunteers are losing interest in OpenOffice, it is clear the majority of them are migrating to LibreOffice, another powerful alternative for MS Office that’s doing pretty well these days.

A heavy number of enterprises, organizations and corporation are moving towards LibreOffice mainly because of performance and cost factors. Other than that, LibreOffice offers advanced document tools similar to the ones bundled into Microsoft’s productivity solution.

OpenOffice, which has its roots in Sun Microsystems and boasts millions of users worldwide, is run by a community of developers maintaining it for free. Under recent circumstances, though, it seems like the pool of talent is drastically running dry. OpenOffice suggested a possible security flaw in the software and instead of issuing an update with a bug fix, the OpenOffice team urged it’s users to switch to LibreOffice or Microsoft Office to avoid any security conflicts. OpenOffice released its latest update in October 2015 while LibreOffice received an update on August 29, 2016.

“It is remiss of me not to point out that retirement of the project is a serious possibility. There are those who fear that discussing retirement can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. My concern is that the project could end with a bang or a whimper. My interest is in seeing any retirement happen gracefully. That means we need to consider it as a contingency. For contingency plans, no time is a good time, but earlier is always better than later,” said Hamilton.

Nonetheless, member Philip Rhodes wants the team to focus on better alternatives rather than considering a the possibility of retirement. Rhodes added that he wants the developers to look for ways to attract users to the OpenOffice platform and even suggested they could consider dropping Mac for a while to build Windows as their strong suit.

On the other hand, LibreOffice is gaining more and more popularity and is swiftly releasing builds and updates, so it is safe to say that LibreOffice has become the number one Microsoft Office alternative and is speedily increasing its download figures on all supported platforms.

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