The LibreOffice office suite (fork of the historic, but already in decline, OpenOffice) is available for just €8.99 in Apple’s Mac App Store, the application store for macOS. Wait… “just”? But wasn’t LibreOffice the main ‘open source’ rival to Microsoft Office? You don’t have to go looking on its website if it is still possible to download this program free of charge: yes, don’t worry, your download is still as free of charge as usual… even if you’re a Mac user.
An option focused only on some users
The Document Foundation, the non-profit organization responsible for the development of LibreOffice, announced this week that that €8.99 that will be charged to install the suite from the Mac App Store is a “convenience fee” that “will be invested to support the development of the LibreOffice project”.
From the foundation they understand that this option is ideal for “end users who want to get all of their desktop software from Apple’s proprietary sales channel”. Accustomed to paying for the convenience of software management from the Store, they understand that it will not dissuade this class of users.
And the rest? Well, you can continue to download your LibreOffice for Mac from its website, as usual. And many users will continue to prefer it, because the LibreOffice on its official website (100% free), unlike the one on the Mac App Store, includes Java. From The Document Foundation they clarify that this is only due to the fact that Apple does not allow dependencies in its stores.
The foundation’s marketing director, Italo Vignoli, thanked Collabora for their past efforts (up until now they offered their own paid version of Libreoffice, with support for 3 years for €10) and explained the change as a “new marketing strategy […] that is committed to better satisfying the needs of individual and business users”.
Paint.NET and Keka, among others, have been betting for a long time on the same dual offer
Actually, as strange as an approach like this is, other popular applications have long ago opted for the same model, using their presence in official application stores as a way, for practical purposes, to collect donations while offering another way Completely free installation. Thus, for example, the file compression and decompression utility for macOS Keka costs €4.99 in the Mac App Store while its website offers free downloads. He has been keeping this approach going for at least a decade:
Glimpse of future? RT @DhruvBhutani Keka is free to download from the website and $3 on the Mac App Store ? ridiculous
— JA (@brijwaasi) May 24, 2012
But this is not just a ‘maqueros’ thing. Windows also has well-known examples of applications that are paid for in the Microsoft Store while their executable files are freely available on their websites. This is the case, for example, of the highly recommended graphic editor Paint.Net, available for €7.99 in the official Windows application store. On their website they place this purchase option at the same level as PayPal donations: “You can also show your support for Paint.NET by buying it in the Windows Store.”