Sun Microsystems, probably best known at the KDE end of the spectrum for their influential paper on local vs distributed computing, recently open-sourced StarOffice, making it freely available to KDE as well as other projects. What impact will this have on KDE and KOffice? Ideally, even though OpenOffice is technically a competitor to KOffice (Sun apparently denies this) and despite the naysayers, OpenOffice will be of sizable benefit to KDE. Read on for a few of my initial thoughts on the matter.
While OpenOffice is certainly a huge contribution to the free software community, it will likely take a certain amount of effort to integrate it well into today's free desktops. Judging by the technical overview, OpenOffice contains and is based on a huge chunk of inhouse technology, implying that there are ways to go before a port to a free desktop environment that is compatible with all the goals of the project is complete. There is no immediate need for such a rewrite, of course, as OpenOffice is already useful and porting existing working code will be a significant task with little or no actual benefit for the applications proper. In fact, a reckless rewrite ala Mozilla might be dangerous from a market perspective, so caution is advised. In the interim, OpenOffice appears slick and polished enough to pass for a KDE1 application and that could be sufficient for now.
In contrast, KOffice, was built from the ground up for KDE, and is fully integrated with native KDE component and related technologies. It may actually be easier to import useful code and technology from OpenOffice to KOffice than to rewrite OpenOffice. In fact, Shaheed Haque, one of our filter experts, lost no time at all in investigating the Microsoft Word filter code. At first glance it appears it will be very useful as a basis for improving KOffice's own filter code. Almost just as promptly, Matthias Elter discovered a set of free high quality TrueType fonts that could come in useful for KDE as a whole. Time will tell how much more technology can be imported, and whether KDE can make good use of all the work that has gone into or will go into OpenOffice.
At the same time, OpenOffice could certainly borrow technology from KOffice. For example, they could consider adopting (and possibly refine in collaboration) the KOffice formats which already use XML and which solve some of the same issues that OpenOffice.org is currently attempting to address. This is a wonderful opportunity for collaboration between OpenOffice.org and the KOffice/KDE community.
In conclusion, while OpenOffice is a mature product, it has a major rewrite and redesign in view if it is to compete on the Unix desktop. KOffice, on the other hand, is already fully integrated with one of the major free Unix desktops but is relatively new with an imminent first public release. Some may argue that one has the advantage over the other in the context of the Unix desktop, but ideally, if this plays out for the best, both KOffice and OpenOffice will see huge and mutual benefits, and both will prosper. Meanwhile, the KOffice project could certainly use your help, contributions and input.
 While KOffice does use KDE technology, one is not forced to use the desktop environment to run KOffice.