Here’s an interesting interview with Louis Suarez-Potts, “community manager” of OpenOffice.org. I really like the point she is making: free software is all about communities, it is all about politics. Free software is, in part, politically motivated which is an important difference with the typical small software motivated by financial gains. Of course, OpenOffice.org is backed by Sun Microsystems which, I hope, is in it for the money, but many of the contributors around them are there for political reasons: they want OpenOffice to support such a langage, such an operating system or such a technology. A company like Microsoft is mostly cut out from such support.
We see an understanding of this dynamic in Brazil, where the government is behind OpenOffice.org and open source in general. We see this in India and elsewhere, where governments understand that they can support OpenOffice.org and they can support open source, and the people who are benefiting are the localities. It is a politically inexpensive but valuable logic.