ComputerWorld's Preston Gralla has suggested that Google should "embrace" OpenOffice.
If Google really wanted to deliver a knockout punch to Microsoft, it would integrate OpenOffice with Google Docs, and sell support for the combined suite to small businesses, medium-sized business, and large corporations. Given the reach of Google, the quality of OpenOffice, and the lure of free, it's a sure winner.
Well, no. Perhaps Gralla should ask the question, "Why does OpenOffice attract relatively little outside contributions, Sun (which manages it) and Novell excluded? It's a gargantuan ball of code, that's why.
The best open-source projects are modular so that an outsider can quickly become a development insider. OpenOffice largely lacks this feature. It was not originally developed as an open-source project, and its pedigree shows. I like and use OpenOffice, but think Google's developers would be wasted in this exercise.
Could Google fix this? Perhaps. Google could invest a tremendous amount of resources to improve OpenOffice, but with the same amount of resources it could come up with a pretty killer Google Docs offering. So why bother with OpenOffice?
The desktop is yesterday's battle. The cloud is tomorrow's. Google, not Microsoft, is winning tomorrow's battle. How would dropping an anchor in yesterday's war help it?