After years of holding out, IBM has joined the OpenOffice.org open-source community and will contribute code to the office suite that serves as an alternative to Microsoft's Office software. IBM has been using code from the project in its development of productivity applications it included in Lotus 8, the latest version of its collaboration suite, but until now had not been an official member of the community, said Doug Heintzman, director of strategy for the Lotus division at IBM. The company now will contribute its own code to the project and be more visible about its work to integrate OpenOffice.org into Lotus, he said. Heintzman acknowledged that the International Organization for Standardization's (ISO's) recent vote to reject Microsoft's Open XML file format as a technology standard was one reason IBM decided to join the effort. OpenOffice.org uses ODF (Open Document Format), a rival file format to Open XML that is already an ISO technology standard. IBM is one of the companies pushing for the use of ODF in companies and government organizations that are creating mandates to only use technology based on open standards in their IT architectures. "They are certainly related," he said of the ISO vote and IBM's decision to join OpenOffice.org. "We think that it's now time to make sure there is a public code base that implements this spec so we can attract a critical mass to build these new value propositions." Sun founded OpenOffice.org and offers its own commercial implementation of the suite, called StarOffice. The company, a long-time IBM competitor in the hardware and software markets, also has been the primary contributor to the code, one of the reasons IBM balked for so long before joining the group.
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