Google will release EtherPad as open source

Google bought EtherPad's creator, AppJet, on Friday

EtherPad, a Web-based word processor that does real-time collaboration

EtherPad, a Web-based word processor that does real-time collaboration

EtherPad, the real-time hosted word processor Google acquired on Friday, will live on as open-source software instead of being discontinued in the coming months.

In announcing its acquisition of EtherPad's creator AppJet, Google had decided to pull the plug on the Web-hosted versions of the application at the end of March of next year.

However, there was such an outcry from current EtherPad users that Google scratched that plan, announcing on Saturday that users will be able to continue creating new hosted "pads" until at least the EtherPad software is released as open source.

EtherPad has been offered in three versions: a hosted "Free" starter edition; a hosted "Professional" edition priced at US$8 per user per month; and a "Private Network" edition priced at $99 per user and designed to be downloaded to on-premise customer servers.

Google said on Friday that it would stop charging users for the Professional edition. It's not clear if that decision still stands. Google didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

It's also not clear whether Google will continue offering the hosted EtherPad service after its releases the software as open source.

"We have begun planning how to open source the code to EtherPad and the underlying AppJet Web Framework. We will continue maintaining new pad creation from the EtherPad home page at least until we have open sourced the code," wrote Aaron Iba, former AppJet CEO, on Saturday in a blog.

Google announced on Friday that it had acquired AppJet to bolster Wave, the Google real-time, hosted collaboration application that combines e-mail, instant messaging and document sharing.

Wave, which has generated a lot of buzz because of its potential impact on consumer and enterprise collaboration, is still in limited release, available via invitation only.

"We do realize -- as does the Google Wave team -- that Wave doesn't yet have all the functionality you rely on, and isn't yet as mature as EtherPad. We are confident that in the long term you will be really happy with Google Wave, though," Iba wrote.

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