Document Foundation Debuts New Release Of LibreOffice Productivity Suite

The announcement comes two days after Oracle said it would turn over the code, which it acquired when it bought Sun Microsystems early last year, to the Apache Software Foundation. In April Oracle announced that it had stopped selling a commercial version of OpenOffice.

This week's moves by Oracle and the Document Foundation are the latest twists in the complex history of the biggest open-source competitor to Microsoft's ubiquitous Office productivity application suit.

The new LibreOffice 3.4.0 is what the Document Foundation described as "the second major release" of the free office suite developed by the community of sponsored and volunteer developers. It offers new features in the Calc spreadsheet, including faster performance and improved compatibility with Excel, and in the Pivot Table (previously called DataPilot) data analysis application. The user interface for the Writer, Impress and Draw applications have been updated with a number of new features.

The organization said in a statement that the 3.4.0 release is targeted toward community members and power users and "should not be implemented in a corporate environment." Releases starting from x.x.1 are meant for corporate deployments.

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Friction developed between Oracle and a number of contributors last year and in September several key community members, including Red Hat, Google and Novell, formed the Document Foundation and created LibreOffice. The group invited Oracle to participate and donate the trademark to the group, but Oracle declined.

While LibreOffice is based on the code, it incorporates improvements from community members, which effectively forks the standard.

In April Oracle said it was discontinuing development of its commercial version of -- observers said LibreOffice's growing momentum was taking its toll on Oracle's efforts.

On Wednesday Oracle said it would submit the code base to the Apache Software Foundation for inclusion within the ASF's Incubator program for open-source software projects.

"With today's proposal to contribute the code to The Apache Software Foundation's Incubator, Oracle continues to demonstrate its commitment to the developer and open source communities," said Luke Kowalski, vice president of the Oracle Corporate Architecture Group, in a blog post.

"Donating to Apache gives this popular consumer software a mature, open, and well established infrastructure to continue well into the future. The Apache Software Foundation's model makes it possible for commercial and individual volunteer contributors to collaborate on open source product development," Kowalski said.

IBM, which bases its Lotus Symphony productivity suite on, issued a statement supporting Oracle's move to turn the code over to Apache.

In its own statement the Document Foundation said it welcomed Oracle's move and said it would "welcome the reuniting of the and LibreOffice projects into a single community of equals in the wake of the departure of Oracle." But the Document Foundation said Oracle's move "does not appear to directly achieve this goal" and it was unclear whether the two sides could get together.