OpenOffice was once a very popular alternative to the Microsoft Office because it was available for free. However, since Google came up with Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides making them available online for free. Microsoft was forced to rethink its strategy and gave out some of its popular Office suite products for free. You can now use MS Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for free online.
With free office suites from both Google and Microsoft, and given the strong brand name they come with. OpenOffice slowly and steadily slid into (for lack of better words) irrelevance. So much so, that developers’ interest shifted to other office suites platforms.
Perhaps the most notably freemium office suite where much developers’ interests seems to be focusing on is the LibreOffice. You can tell it has more volunteer developers from the frequently published updates it gets, unlike OpenOffice whose last update has not been forthcoming for a long time.
Indeed, LibreOffice has now become the popular alternative office suite to the premium MS Office. It has overtaken OpenOffice, both in terms of the number of users and the developers on the platform.
Dennis E. Hamilton, the volunteer Vice President of OpenOffice recently sent out an email to the project’s mailing list. Informing the OpenOffice members that its “retirement … is a serious possibility.” Hamilton gave the reason for the soon possible retirement as lack of enough volunteer developers.
Without enough developers, OpenOffice is crippled by not having up-to-date updates to address emerging security issues and product improvement. That also means that the suite is not as secure as it needs to be, and in turn making cyber security conscious users shy away from it. Additionally, there is not much progress being done toward improving user interface and experience.
If developers do not warm up to Apache OpenOffice once again and soon. Then, it is highly likely that it will never rise from its deathbed. It will soon die off and placed in the relics of the software museums, somewhere beside other like the Internet Explorer.
To read the email Hamilton sent out to OpenOffice mailing list, click here.