April 18, 2011 – Oracle is shifting its OpenOffice business intelligence and office production suite to development through the open source community, a move two outside analysts see as related to managing development costs.

Oracle stated in a news release it would no longer offer a commercial version of the office software suite, which contains capabilities for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics and databases. Instead, OpenOffice will become a community-based development project, with strong support for open standards document formats like Open Document Format (ODF), said Edward Screven, Oracle chief corporate architect in a news release.

“Given the breadth of interest in free personal productivity applications and the rapid evolution of personal computing technologies, we believe the OpenOffice.org project would be best managed by an organization focused on serving that broad constituency on a noncommercial basis,” said Screven.

As of 2010, approximately 200,000 global users had adopted some element of OpenOffice software, according to research from German Web traffic analysts Webmasterpro.

Stephen E. Arnold, an open source analyst who follows Oracle, says the move should manage costs for the company as part of an attempt to “cope with the bucking horse bronco that is open source software.”

Stephen O’Grady, analyst with developer-focused firm RedMonk, says the development community has already dug into the suite in LibreOffice. He adds that the move has more to do with money than Oracle is letting on.  

“[I]t’s unsurprising, as Oracle has little interest in projects that don’t offer direct revenue opportunities,” O’Grady says.