This is a response to my friend Matt's take on Novell's work with OpenOffice. I had some trouble posting there, so I'll post it here.
This is definitely a Good Thing(tm) for MS. Switching formats on the new version (Office 2007) is one reason for existing Office users not to upgrade (or a reason to switch over to OOo). So having the "compatible with OOo" card in their hand shows they aren't a monopoly and that they have interoperability with Novell's OOo as well.
I think this is bad for OOo and the Open Document Format. Now MS can push their open format, and we know they certainly have much more $ in the coffers as well as the ability to market (one thing open source is quite lousy at). Now that governments and organizations are starting to adopt ODF, MS can go in and lobby/pay them to adopt openXML, allowing them to keep their cash cow alive and well.
Like Matt, I wouldn't call this a fork either, but it doesn't appear that Ximian/Novell has worked well with the OOo community. Why haven't their changes been rolled back in if they are so good? I don't lurk or follow the developement of OOo too closely. (Note, I really don't want Mono in OOo, but maybe some of their other "features" might be nice). Also, with the new, "we won't sue Novell" relationship, I would be very worried if I were Sun about taking any OOo changes from Novell as this could turn into an even bigger SCO fiasco....
(On the other hand this could be that Sun just doesn't want outsiders developing OOo. That would seem silly, especially how Sun appears to be one of the best behaving Open Source contributors/citizens currently)