Bruce Byfield

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Four years ago, OpenOffice.org didn't exist. Today, it is probably not only the largest free software project in the world, but also the most important. On a personal level, it's also become a major feature of my life - which explains this column. OpenOffice.org began when Sun Microsystems bought the StarOffice office suite from a German company called StarDivision in 1999. For a year or two, Sun didn't seem to know what to do with the project. Sometimes, it charged for it. Other times, it gave it away. Finally, at the O'Reilly Open Source Convention in July 2000, Sun announced its decision. Third-party software would be stripped from StarOffice, and the code would be released under the name of OpenOffice.org. StarOffice would continue as a proprietary snapshot of OpenOffice.org. On October 13, 2000, OpenOffice.org was born. Eighteen months later, it reached versio... (more)