New LibreOffice version released for a fee in the Mac App Store

Cut corners: The LibreOffice Foundation offers Apple users a paid version of the productivity suite of the same name. The money will be used to finance the development of the project, or rather to “educate” organizations about the added value of professional services and official distribution channels. Or so they say.

Shortly after the release of LibreOffice 7.4.1 Community Edition, The Document Foundation launched a new paid distribution of the office suite on the Mac App Store. LibreOffice remains free, but Apple users pay a price to get their software from Apple’s official channels while skipping the download of important dependencies available in the aforementioned Community Edition.

The Document Foundation is the non-profit organization that promotes and governs LibreOffice, the open-source productivity suite that began as a fork of OpenOffice. The suite includes a word processor (Writer), spreadsheet program (Calc), presentation program (Impress) and other tools designed to be FOSS alternatives to commercial office suites, but most notably the ubiquitous Microsoft Office.

Announcing the release of LibreOffice on the Mac App Store, LibreOffice Marketing Director Italo Vignoli said that TDF “wants to support end users who want to get all of their desktop software through Apple’s proprietary distribution channel.” The previous App Store version of LibreOffice was managed by Collabora, while LibreOffice now charges a €8.99 “fee” to directly support the development of the project.

Perhaps the missing piece following this line of reasoning is that Apple offers a free office suite with macOS, the iWork suite is fairly competent for basic productivity, and also offers MS Office alternatives called Pages, Numbers, and Keynote.

According to Vignoli, the new paid version is an evolution of the previous situation and reflects TDF’s new marketing strategy: the foundation focuses, as always, on the release of the community-developed version of LibreOffice, while “ecosystem companies focus on a value-added long-term supported version for companies.” Companies must be trained to support the FOSS project by choosing the LibreOffice version optimized for production use while being supported by professional services, added Vignoli.

The “positive” effects of this new strategy won’t be visible for some time, TDF said, but a paid version of LibreOffice for App Store users is just the beginning of a journey in that direction. Additionally, the App Store edition of the productivity suite will not include a Java runtime as external dependencies are not allowed by Apple. The paid LibreOffice is based on the same source code as the standard version, which will continue to be available as a Windows, Linux or macOS package (Apple Silicon or Intel). This is the version that all users – including the Mac users – should probably get. New LibreOffice version released for a fee in the Mac App Store

Chris Barrese

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