THE CONFLICTED OWNER of major open source software projects, Oracle has updated MySQL and Open Office and launched its cloud-based productivity suite.
Since taking over Sun Microsystems, Oracle's posturing has led many to believe that the open source projects MySQL and Open Office are set for the closed source scrapheap. Both MySQL 5.5 and Open Office 3.3 are the first major releases since the takeover. Somewhat surprisingly, Oracle is stressing the continuing free software character and free availability of both of these important open source products.
Oracle's Cloud Office mirrors moves by Microsoft and Google, both of which offer cloud based office suites. Cloud Office is essentially a web based office suite, offering users the opportunity to work on documents using their web browser. Oracle cites interoperability between Microsoft Office and Open Office, though anyone with experience will know that the difference between such claims and reality can be large.
As for Open Office 3.3, Oracle is shifting it towards the enterprise with 'connectors' to its own enterprise backend software such as E-Business Suite and Business Intelligence. Oracle also points out that its licence costs are "five times lower" than Microsoft Office.
The company released MySQL 5.5 Community Edition under the GNU General Public License (GPL) and included the InnoDB engine by default. Oracle points out that the release benefits from "substantial user community participation", suggesting that it might not shut out those who have helped to make MySQL one of the most popular production database systems.
These releases go some way towards calming fears that Oracle is about to shun the open source community and go straight for the big bucks. However, whether Oracle will continue to be faithful to the free software community in the future still remains to be seen. µ
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