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OpenOffice used to be one of Microsoft’s biggest competitors, but it may not exist for much longer. After its purchase by Oracle, the company has seen a gradual decrease in funding and developer interest.

This has degraded to the point that the team can no longer guarantee security updates. Denis E. Hamilton, the productivity suite’s vice president, found this unacceptable. The company recently recommended users switch to Office 365 or LibreOffice to circumvent the issue.

“In the case of Apache Open Office,” Hamilton says,“needing to disclose security vulnerabilities for which there is no mitigation in an update has become a serious issue.”

The Vice President has also sent out an email to the project mailing list informing subscribers that “retirement of the project is a serious possibility.” 

Lack of OpenOffice Manpower

The email thread revealed in Apache’s archive goes into further detail about the developer shortage. The project needs at least three project management committee members that can build a binary from a release-candidate archive. In recent times, even this has been a struggle.

The Apache Software Foundation raised concerns about this issue in June, and the PMC will have to give details on the problem and provide a remedy. As a result, OpenOffice now has to report to the board each month rather than per quarter.

Should the PMC decide to shutter the project, the code base would remain available to anybody who wishes to use it on the Apache Attic. The GitHub repository would be closed to pull requests and would likely shut down eventually.

OpenOffice’s current version would remain available on SourceForge mirrors, but the devs would release no new builds. All social media accounts and public mailing lists would be shut down, and the PMC would disband.

It would be a very dark day for the project, but according to Hamilton it’s a real possibility, and contingencies need to be made. You can read the full details on the official archives.