by Kaj Kandler

I don’t know how you visualize ecosystems, for me they resemble a picture of a jungle with lots of nurishing water, beautiful plants, colorful birds and some dangerous snakes lurking on trees.

The newest take on the multitude of products derived from is to call it an ecosystem. While Sun Microsystem thinks the multiple distributions of are an ecosystem, I often feel lost in the Jungle that is. Lets list the well known distributions:

  • – the “Original”
  • StarOffice – the commercial version from Sun Micosystems
  • StarSuite – a sun distribution targeted at the Asian market
  • StarOffice from Google – a free commercial (?) distribution
  • Novell Edition – free version with new developments by Novell and in the pipeline for integration into the “Original”
  • NeoOffice – a distribution with integration into Mac OS X Aqua UI, also contains some Novell additions
  • Retro Office – a distribution from the NeoOffice project, adding some of the Novell derived integration but not the Aqua UI integration
  • … various commercial distributions that sell the office suite with minor alterations and support plans

The jungle becomes more dense if you consider that Open Office calls its development steps “release”, while Sun counts Star Office in “version.” I find it also confusing that Sun Microsystems does offer support with its commercial Star Office but also offers support plans for Open Office.

I do welcome various distributions of the same core open source base. However, what confuses me is the product strategy of Sun. Wouldn’t it be much easier if they offered a commercial Plus packages with the add ons that can’t be licensed under open source licenses? This would simplify the value for the buyer and unify the support plan offering. It would also put the power of Sun’s advertising behind the whole project and put more mindshare into Open Office, while still retaining Sun’s ability to make money from its work.

One Response to “Could Your Ecosystem be my Jungle?”

  1. IBM Wants to Play First Fiddle in Office Suite Market Says:

    […] Unfortunately this is another species in the jungle called Open Office eco-system. […]

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