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The Evolution of OpenOffice: A Complete History

The Evolution of OpenOffice: A Complete History

The Evolution of OpenOffice: A Complete History

OpenOffice is a widely-used open-source office productivity suite that has revolutionized how individuals and organizations create and edit documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. In this article, we will delve into the complete history of OpenOffice, from its inception to its current state, exploring the key milestones, major contributions, and the ongoing community support that has shaped this remarkable software.

Early Beginnings

OpenOffice was born out of another popular office productivity suite, StarOffice, which was developed by a German company called StarDivision. StarOffice featured a word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation program, similar to Microsoft Office. In 1999, Sun Microsystems acquired StarDivision, which marked the start of the OpenOffice journey as Sun Microsystems sought to release the software under an open-source license.

Open Sourcing and The Birth of OpenOffice

In 2000, Sun Microsystems announced that IT would provide the source code of StarOffice to the public, leading to the creation of the OpenOffice project. The decision to open-source StarOffice was prompted by Sun Microsystems’ belief in the power of collaboration and the potential for community-driven development.

The First Release

The first official release of OpenOffice, known as 1.0, occurred on May 1, 2002. This initial release featured the core components of a typical office suite and supported multiple platforms, including Windows, macOS, and Linux. The main goal was to provide an alternative to costly commercial office suites that could empower users with free and open tools.

The Community Takes Over

In 2010, after Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems, concerns arose about the future of OpenOffice and its open-source nature. Many community members and developers felt that the project’s direction was uncertain, leading to a significant split in the community. As a result, a new open-source project named LibreOffice was created, which aimed to continue the development of a truly community-driven office suite. This marked a turning point in the evolution of OpenOffice.

The Apache Foundation Era

In 2011, Oracle decided to hand over OpenOffice to the Apache software Foundation (ASF). This donation allowed the software to be managed by a reputable organization that had experience in fostering open-source projects. The transition to ASF led to a renewed focus on community-driven development, stability improvements, and compatibility enhancements.

The Current State of OpenOffice

OpenOffice, under the guidance of the Apache software Foundation, continues to be actively developed and maintained. The most recent stable release, OpenOffice 4.1.10, introduced various performance enhancements, bug fixes, and improved compatibility with modern file formats. The software remains a popular choice for individuals, educational institutions, and small businesses seeking a free and open-source office suite.

Community Contributions

One of the key strengths of OpenOffice lies in its vibrant and passionate community. Developers, translators, designers, and documentation writers all come together to contribute their expertise and make OpenOffice better with each release. This community-driven approach ensures that the software evolves in response to user needs and ever-evolving technology trends.

The Roadmap Ahead

OpenOffice has an exciting roadmap that aims to address modern user requirements, improve performance, and enhance compatibility. Some planned features include a redesigned user-interface, greater interoperability with other office suites, and enhanced collaboration tools. The community behind OpenOffice is dedicated to the ongoing development and evolution of the software.


The evolution of OpenOffice has been a remarkable journey, from its beginnings as a commercial software to its transformation into a widely-used community-driven open-source office suite. Despite challenges and forks along the way, OpenOffice has shown its resilience and adaptability, remaining a viable and attractive alternative to proprietary office software. With a dedicated community behind IT, OpenOffice is poised to continue evolving and meeting the needs of users worldwide.


1. Is OpenOffice compatible with Microsoft Office file formats?

Yes, OpenOffice provides good compatibility with Microsoft Office file formats, including .doc, .xls, and .ppt. However, formatting differences and advanced features may not translate perfectly between the two suites.

2. Can OpenOffice be used commercially?

Yes, OpenOffice is free to use for both personal and commercial purposes. Its open-source nature allows users to modify and distribute the software without licensing fees.

3. How does OpenOffice compare to LibreOffice?

OpenOffice and LibreOffice share a common heritage, but they have diverged in terms of development and community support. LibreOffice has gained popularity due to its more rapid development pace and community-driven decision-making process. However, both office suites offer similar features and compatibility with common file formats.