Will OpenOffice.org Go to the Ball this Year?

I remain perplexed by the state of OpenOffice.org. After years of using Word 2 (yes, you read that correctly - by far the best version Microsoft ever produced), I jumped straight to OpenOffice.org as my main office software.

Version 1.0 was, it is a true, a little on the, er, rough side, but since 2.0, I've had practically no problems - no crashes at all that I can remember. It's reasonably fast, not a huge memory hog (certainly nothing compared to the old versions of Firefox, or even Firefox 3.0, which still regularly eats several hundred Meg of my RAM for breakfast) and does practically everything most people who aren't Excel macro junkies could possibly want: what's not to like?

Plenty, judging by the general negativity that abounds on the Net. OpenOffice.org is simply unloved in the way that GNU/Linux or Firefox is. Why is this? Is it because of the daft name (can't they pay someone off so that they can drop the dangling and unmemorable ".org" bit?), or because Sun retains fairly close control over the project, and people aren't happy with that? Explanations gladly accepted.

Whatever the reason, one thing I would really love to see in 2009 is an improvement in OpenOffice.org's image, perhaps with some direct help from other free software projects like Firefox (hello, Mozilla Foundation). The office suite is the third pillar of core desktop software - along with the browser and email program. Because of this centrality, improving the current poor state of OpenOffice.org's standing would not only help that project, but open source in general, by increasing the latter's overall credibility as a drop-in replacement for Windows and Office.


Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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