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From Rob Weir <robw...@apache.org>
Subject What does "supported" mean for us?
Date Tue, 01 Jan 2013 16:59:42 GMT
When a commercial software vendor says a configuration is "supported"
it means something, typically that to the extent the software license
includes an entitlement to support, that the vendor will provide that
service for that configuration.  So saying something is "supported" is
essentially an obligation.

With a volunteer-run, open source project, "supported" cannot mean
quite the same thing.   We're not obligated, in any contractual sense,
to provide anyone with anything.  That's the nature of a volunteer
effort.

However, users and organizations considering OpenOffice will naturally
think in terms of "support", even if they user that term loosely.  We
use that term as well, in our release notes, etc.  But I think we
ought to have a more precise definition of what we mean when we say
something is "supported", in order to avoid any confusion.   This
question has come up recently, with regards to the status of Windows
8, where that OS had not been released at the time AOO 3.4.1 was
released.

So here's a strawman proposal for what "supported" means for us.

1) "Supported" is a statement we make about a specific version of AOO
used with a specific platform, e.g., AOO 3.4.1 with Windows XP SP3 or
AOO 3.4 with Ubuntu 12.04 LTS.

2) "Supported" means we encourage use of AOO in that configuration.
We have high confidence that the combination is stable, that it works
well and is safe.

3) Our confidence in stating something is supported should have a
solid basis in testing.  Something is not "supported" by us guessing
it should work.  It is supported only after we have successfully
completed testing of that release with that platform.  We probably
should define exactly what level of testing is required.

4) "Supported" also implies that the supported configuration is
sufficiently available and there is sufficient expertise that we have
confidence that users will have a high quality experience seeking
support on the forums and user list.

5) "Supported" also implies that we stand behind that release and will
take necessary steps to correct *critical* bugs, especially security
flaws, via rapidly produced point releases where necessary.

Note that these are all expectations that a user might have, though
any given user might think that "supported" means only a subset of
these.

What we probably really need is more of a lifecycle statement,
including when support for a configuration ends.

-Rob

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