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The next big release of LibreOffice is due out next week, The Document Foundation has promised.It’s a victory lap for a small group of developers who left Oracle to try and improve a solid free alternative to Microsoft Office.
The Document Foundation sprung to life a little over a year ago, September 2010, after Oracle bought Sun and inherited OpenOffice.org, a free Office competitor that had been around since 1999.
OpenOffice.org was starting to gain in popularity, but Oracle had little interest in it. Most of the core developers left, started the Document Foundation, took the open source code they developed, and started working on their next version.
After a big kerfuffle over the situation, Oracle handed OpenOffice.org over to the Apache Foundation.
Now, developer support for LibreOffice has swelled. Its foundation claims more than 400 new developers: 50 paid developers and another 350 volunteers. Developers (who call themselves hackers) come from the former Sun/Oracle team but also from other big Linux companies like SUSE, Red Hat, and Canonical.
Photo: The Document Foundation
More importantly, as of September, the foundation calculates that there is a total of 25 million LibreOffice users worldwide and it claims it is on its way to “a target of 200 million users worldwide before the end of the decade,” it declared in a blog post.
LibreOffice is available for Windows, Macs and Linux. It includes a word processor, spreadsheet, database, drawing app and presentation maker. A document created in LibreOffice can be viewed and edited in Microsoft Office (and OpenOffice.org, for that matter) with support for most Office features. The team promises that the next version, 3.5, will be chocked full of more features.