IBM now helping (and scooter simians)

It's Tuesday's IT Blogwatch: in which IBM finally joins in with the project. Not to mention the monkey moped takedown...

Todd R. Weiss R.eports

IBM has gotten so much from the office suite to enhance its own products that the company has decided to finally give back in a big way: It's joining the open-source project and will contribute code, developers and other resources for free ... by joining the effort directly, it hopes to develop feature enhancements and help push broader adoption of the OpenDocument format (ODF) standard used in the suite.
IBM has been using OpenOffice code for the past several years to create its own version of the office applications integrated into the Lotus Notes 8 collaboration suite ... Previously, IBM had been doing this work outside of the OpenOffice community ... All future Lotus and IBM products that incorporate OpenOffice code will use code from the community rather than from what had been IBM's forked version of the project.
IBM is anticipates shifting demand from customers, changing specifications and wider adoption of ODF, as well as other changes expected in future office applications ... includes word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, drawing, database and other modules and uses ODF as its native file format; it also fully supports other common file formats, including Microsoft Office. OpenOffice runs on all major platforms, including Windows, Vista, Linux, Solaris and Mac OS X, and is available in more than 100 languages. It is interoperable with other popular suites and may be used free of charge for any purpose, private or commercial, under its GNU Lesser General Public License ... [and] has been downloaded nearly 100 million times. [more]

Ryan Paul speaks plainly:

IBM ... will be contributing source code from Lotus Notes and participating in ongoing efforts to improve the open source office suite. IBM will also be incorporating parts of OOo into Lotus Notes
IBM has long been one of the most vocal supporters of the ODF standard, an XML-based document format that is used by both Lotus Notes and IBM's efforts to improve OOo could help to expand use of the ODF format. [more]

Brad Shimmin makes us an offer we can't refuse:

IBM threw its shoulder behind the community effort today, pledging the support of 35 of its programmers, who will contribute enhancements centering on usability, quality and accessibility. And before you ask, yes IBM has its own suite of productivity apps that support the ODF format (the IBM Workplace Managed Client and Lotus Notes and Domino 8), and yes IBM is just now publicly pledging support for a product it already tacitly supported.

Still, IBM's timing in publicly backing ODF (while Microsoft's OOXML vs ODF spin cycle rages on) reminds me a little of the lesson Lefty gives Johnny Depp's character, in the film Donnie Brasco. Lefty: When I introduce you, I'm gonna say, 'This is a friend of mine.' That means you're a connected guy. Now if I said instead, 'this is a friend of ours' that would mean you a made guy. A Capiche?"

With IBM's track record in supporting and encouraging open source projects (anyone remember that little ditty called Eclipse?), this loud endorsement is big news and should serve as a real shot in the arm for both OpenOffice and ODF. [more]

Andy Updegrove upde ante: [You're fired -Ed.]

[OO.o is] free, and based upon source code originally published as open source in 2000 by Sun Microsystems under the LPGL license. The project has been actively developing the code since 2003, largely with the economic support of Sun Microsystems, which sells a business-oriented, supported version of the same suite called StarOffice.
The news is significant principally because the ability of ODF compliant software to meet end-user, and especially enterprise end-user, needs has arguably lagged the success of the ODF standard itself to achieve credibility in the marketplace. ODF has enjoyed a surprisingly robust run of successes, emerging first into broad notice with its adoption by Massachusetts in September of 2005, and continuing through its unanimous adoption by ISO/IEC JTC1. More recently, ODF received a boost on September 2, when OOXML failed to win adoption in the first round of consideration by the same committee. In order to capitalize on this success, however, customers need products that can compete toe to toe with Microsoft Office.
The question that many will be asking is this: What took so long? That's a query upon which many have speculated, but which no one has ever definitively answered ...  the setback for OOXML in ISO/IEC JTC1 ... has provided a bandwagon effect ... Whatever the reasons may have been that have kept Sun and IBM from working together to support OpenOffice over the past four years, the reality is that a chance to break an industry monopoly that generates $15 billion in revenues a year comes only once in a generation – if it comes at all. This is no time for either vendor to let the differences of the past prevent them from seizing the historic opportunities of the future. [more]

Matthew Aslett also finds the timing interesting:

What’s interesting about IBM signing up to become a member of the community is the fact that it wasn’t a member already. Given the company’s campaigning behind ODF I don’t think many people would have considered that the company wasn’t a community member ... [IBM] sees clear commercial benefit from becoming part of OOo. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, especially as the company will also be contributing key technologies to the project as well. [more]

Here's somersault, celebrating:

Yay. One more step to not being locked into Microsoft (ie paying through the nose) for an application than can make writing look prettier, and is universally accepted. [more]

Tim Gray has advice for those pondering a switch to OO.o:

We "wooed" employees by saying, "this is our new company policy. all computers will be changed over to this new standard effective XXXX" 95% had no problem, the 5% that did whined big time. but we had finance on our side so in the big shirts meetings when the whiners whines got to them they got shot down by the director of finance saying, "It will cost us $180,000 to switch back to MS office, replacing that employee with someone that is professional enough to understand business means change is not only cheaper but probably a good idea anyways."

It shut all the whiners up fast when they found that replacing them is far cheaper than catering to their whining. [more]

Buffer overflow:

Around the Net Around Computerworld Previously in IT Blogwatch

And finally... Scooter simians

Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/adviser/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and spam. A 20 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. You too can pretend to be Richi's friend on Facebook, or just use boring old email:

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