Thursday, October 14, 2010

Happy Birthday

Ten years ago, on 13 October 2000, Sun released the source code to StarOffice under open-source licenses. Formidable in size and complexity and positioned against a seemingly overwhelmingly dominant competitor, was seen as at best, foolish, at worse, boring, fit only for office drones. Browsers, it was said, have more fun.

But we, the project community, showed these skeptics to be wrong. We showed the world that a free office productivity suite using open standards, especially what later came to be known as the OpenDocument Format (ODF), is more desirable, more powerful, and more transformative than any browser could be. We, the project community, gave the world a set of tools that allows all to participate as equals in the fields of commerce, science, education, government, to name but a few.

We have given the world the tools to do things and to work together. With, people produce - and their productions are theirs to keep and do with as they will. That is real freedom.

It is a freedom that today perhaps 100 million people enjoy. In some regions, our product's usage is greater than 20 percent of the office suite userbase. How have we done this? And without spending the expected billions on advertising and other marketing efforts? To a great extent,, the application made by us, the community, sells itself, and its good news is spread through word of mouth, not via billboards and the like. Its professional quality and performance is tremendously persuasive. works on all platforms and in over a hundred languages, and perhaps most important, it also works well with other suites: our code and our use of the ODF means there is no vendor lock-in. Users, from those in government offices to individuals at home, are free to choose what is best for them without the anxiety they'll be stuck with something they do not much like but costs a lot.

They have chosen, and we are sure they will continue to do so in even greater numbers over the next ten years. They choose it today it not simply because it costs them nothing to download from our site, but because of its professional quality and flexibility - as well as its reassuring consistency. Over the last ten years, we have regularly released small and large versions incorporating new features, functionality, and design, all tested and qualified for any user environment. This fall, we are releasing 3.3, and the beta is available for community testing. Expect more releases-and also a lot more extensions.

With extensions, there is virtually no limit to what the application can do, and every day the community makes more available under a variety of licenses. These address individual, as well as enterprise, needs. Support, services, and training, offered by Oracle and other large and small companies, is globally available in a host of languages; these all complement the free community support and constitute a portion of the large and growing ecosystem.

And our momentum is building, as the size and complexity of the community contributing to the project grows and as more see in a future they want to be part of. It's a future of freedom that we commit to, as a community that includes Oracle as well other enterprises, and countless thousands of independent contributors.

Our first ten years have proven the strength of our vision and technology against every imaginable challenge; the next - well, who can say? Only this: we commit to making the tools of productivity, growing the community, and improving the product - open to all to inspect, use, improve, distribute, and we invite the world to join us in our commitment.

Happy Birthday,!

On behalf of the Project,

Louis Suarez-Potts
Community Development Manager

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