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Novell OpenOffice Fork?

Novell has released a new version of OpenOffice.org 2.0.2, replete with all kinds of fancy (and possibly patent-encumbered) "interoperability" features. Let's count the number of times we see the words "Microsoft" or "Windows", shall we?

key features of OpenOffice.org 2.0.2

The Novell€® Edition of OpenOffice.org contains enhancements that are not available in the standard edition. These include:

  • Enhanced Support for Microsoft Office File Formats: OpenOffice.org supports import and export of Microsoft Office file formats, even taking advantage of compatible fonts to match document length. Transparent document sharing makes OpenOffice.org the best choice if you are deploying it in a mixed Linux/Windows environment.
  • E-Mail as Microsoft Office Document: The standard edition of OpenOffice.org supports e-mailing of files as PDF files from within the OpenOffice.org application. With the Novell Edition of OpenOffice.org, you can also e-mail any document as a Microsoft Office file. For example, you can e-mail a Writer file as a Microsoft Word file, so the file is automatically converted and attached to an e-mail in your default e-mail application.
  • Excel VBA Macro Interoperability: The Novell Edition of OpenOffice.org eases the migration of many macros from Microsoft Excel. Although not all macros can be successfully migrated, this interoperability offers more than the standard edition, which does not support migration of macros.
  • Enhanced Fonts: For the Novell Edition of OpenOffice.org, Novell licensed fonts from AGFA that use the same or similar names as the fonts available in Microsoft Office. The fonts also look similar to those used by Microsoft and have identical metrics. This allows OpenOffice.org to match fonts when opening documents originally composed in Microsoft Office, and very closely match pagination and page formatting.
  • ODMA Integration: The Novell Edition of OpenOffice.org for Windows includes initial release of ODMA integration such as GroupWise.

Okay, I didn't really count, but there were a bunch weren't there? Interestingly, this article notes that Novell is adding the support to its Linux version of Novell OpenOffice.org, but the download page only indicates Windows 2000/XP as the platform:

Novell has announced that they are adding support for the recently launched MS Office 2007 document format to their version of the OpenOffice productivity suite for the Linux operating system.

Novell has provided a modified version of OpenOffice.org 2.02 as a free download for their registered users, which is compatible with Office 2007 documents.

Did you catch that last part about "free download for their registered users"? What do you want to bet that is so they have a counter for their royalty payment to Microsoft for their "Interoperability IP"? Why else restrict the downloading of an "Open-Source" product, or can Novell customers not redistribute the special Novell Edition now? Is the Novell Edition of OpenOffice.org under any license other than LGPL?

I have lots of questions about this announcement that I will be further researching, Pamela Jones of Groklaw is also on the case, so be sure to check out what she has come up with:

Well, if there are any Novell supporters left, here's something else to put in your pipe and smoke it. Novell is forking OpenOffice.org.

There will be a Novell edition of OpenOffice.org and it will support Microsoft OpenXML. (The default will be ODF, they claim, but note that the subheading mentions OpenXML instead.) I am guessing this will be the only OpenOffice.org covered by the "patent agreement" with Microsoft. You think?

Yes, unfortunately I do.

UPDATE: Miguel De Icaza says Novell OpenOffice is not a fork, but a patched version of OpenOffice.org. I did get a kick out of this though:

Btw, I believe the translator that people are discussing is built with C# and XSLT and is available here. I wonder some of the posters on the Groklaw thread are going to have a stroke over the fact that the software is hosted at source forge.

The document converter they are working on is in C#? So, I need to use Mono to use their converter for MS OpenXML? How many lawsuits must I expose myself to just to get at my own information in those documents?

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