There was a time when Microsoft was genuinely concerned that open source software could threaten its profitable dominance of the office suite market. But that was when it was all about the P.C. No company yet exercises the same control over web or mobile office productivity packages.
Google has been investing heavily in making its Docs office suite available off-line, as an Android app, as well as through just about any web browser, fixed or mobile. And, coming at Microsoft from the other direction is LibreOffice which last month celebrated its first birthday.
Although that makes LibreOffice sound fairly new, its antecedents go back to the 1980s, of which more later. For now, it competes with Microsoft Office head on, offering a similar productivity package including a word processor, PowerPoint presentation-style program and a spreadsheet. None of these are as polished as their Microsoft equivalents, but as open-source software, they are available free to individuals and organizations.As mentioned earlier, LibreOffice is a fairly new name in the business, but the software’s origins go way back. It is technically a “fork” of the OpenOffice suite which was supported by Sun until its takeover by Oracle. This led to something of an arcane split between developers of OpenOffice and LibreOffice.
In June Oracle donated OpenOffice to the Apache Software Foundation (A.S:F.) and everything went quiet leading to suggestions that the project would be buried. But ZDNet reports: So, it seems, for now there will be two very similar free packages competing head on with Microsoft Office and, possibly, Google Docs.