Project curators The Document Foundation (TDF) have confirmed (opens in new tab) the new charge is a ‘convenience fee’ for users who would prefer to obtain the MacOS version of the suite from the Mac App Store instead of directly from the LibreOffice website (opens in new tab), where the software remains available for free across all platforms.
TDF also wrote that proceeds from the new Mac App Store version “will be invested to support development of the LibreOffice project”.
LibreOffice marketing strategy
As the software is still freely available, most individual users have little to fear about this change, which TDF have also said is due to a change in marketing strategy.
The foundation said that its new marketing strategy reflected the organization’s specific focus on the “Community” version of the software, which is supplied for free online to individuals, while “ecosystem companies” are ”focussed on a value-added long-term supported versions targeted at enterprises.”
In essence, the organization wants to direct businesses to specific enterprise versions of LibreOffice that it feels will better suit them.
“The distinction has the objective of educating organizations to support the FOSS [Free and Open Source] project by choosing the LibreOffice version which has been optimized for deployments in production and is backed by professional services, and not the Community version generously supported by volunteers,” the organization wrote.
The thinking will also be that large companies have the funds available to make a small monetary contribution to the project’s long-term future.
It’s worth noting that a version of LibreOffice has already been available on the Mac App Store for some time, although priced slightly higher at $10. That “Vanilla” offering came with three years of dedicated technical support from collaboration software consulting firm Collabora (opens in new tab).
It’s hard to say what the foundation hopes to achieve with this change in strategy. The Mac App Store is a consumer-facing platform, so why TDF is interested in it as a means of educating businesses about FOSS software is unclear.
TDF themselves have admitted that the new version remains hampered by a lack of Java integration, because Apple forbid the use of dependencies. As a result, it’s unclear why – beyond the promise of long-term support – businesses would be interested in a version of the productivity tool software suite that lacks functionality.
As a result, this new release doesn’t seem to be much of a “value-added” offering for businesses, although it may be a while before the impact of the new strategy on FOSS-education becomes clear.
TechRadar Pro has emailed TDF for clarity on the move, and will update this article if we receive a response.