What Windows RT Means for LibreOffice

While Mozilla and Google have received a lot of press attention for their Windows RT antitrust worries, nobody’s yet spoken up about the antitrust nature of Microsoft allowing only its own office suite to run as part of Windows RT’s Classic environment.

While it’s difficult to port a browser to Metro, it would take years for LibreOffice to be ported to the Metro environment. Microsoft gets to take the easy way out, as it gets to allow its Office suite to run as part of the Classic environment. Not only that, it gets all the advantages of the Classic environment, both in terms of the higher privileges that Mozilla has been talking about and even in terms of just having a windowed environment that’s especially useful for office suites (or maybe it just seems that way to me, seeing as my mother is a translator and often needs to have two windows side by side).

That basically means that Office will be the unchallenged office suite for Windows RT for years to come — LibreOffice, Calligra, and Apache OpenOffice have no fighting chance.

Am I the only one concerned about this? Why isn’t this receiving the attention it deserves?

13 thoughts on “What Windows RT Means for LibreOffice

  1. I think you’re confusing things a little, the discussion is about it being impossible to port Firefox to Windows 8 RT (i. e. Windows on _ARM_). The x86/x86-64 version of Windows will have the desktop enabled for all apps that need it.
    Microsoft has some reasoning for this (battery life, because ARM chips will initially primarily be found in tablets) and I believe it’s not a complete strawman, at least.

    1. Yes — I accidentally kept writing “Windows RC” instead of “Windows RT”. It’s fixed now.

      If classic applications would wreak havoc on battery life, then they shouldn’t be allowed at all, with no exception for Microsoft Office. It’d be perfectly acceptable for MS to ship a Metro version of Office instead. By allowing only Office and IE to run as part of the desktop, Microsoft is stifling the competition, which has no means to compete.

      1. Ah, so… sorry, I shouldn’t have let that T/C thing get me off track.

        Anyway, I guess they just want to hide the fact that even they can’t follow their own platform right now. Once Windows 9 is released, though, the desktop and anything else not yet locked down will be a thing of past – unless consumers start screaming now. I am not sure I hope for that, because it might just happen that all the lockdown into Microsoft’s mediocrity makes other platforms more attractive.
        On the other hand, locked hardware platforms go hand in hand with locked software platforms which would make the future look rather more bleak, then.

        Is all that anti-competitive? Probably, but it will also make Windows 8+ a more consistent, less mediocre platform.

      2. @astron: It is anticompetitive. We should demand that either a) third-party classic apps are allowed to run in Windows RT or b) no classic apps are allowed to run in Windows RT.

        BTW, how does shipping only select Microsoft classic applications and not allowing users to install any make Windows 8+ more consistent?

  2. nobody’s yet spoken up about the antitrust nature of Microsoft allowing only its own office suite to run as part of Windows RT’s Classic environment

    I don’t think it have an “antitrust nature” because you can develop your own office suite (in Metro). Who really needs LibreOffice in a tablet, can buy an x86-based tablets. I know that Metro-style apps have many restrictions, but… let’s think about.

    If “Windows RT” was named “Yet-Another-OS-For-Tablets” (or something like that, without “Windows” in the name), would you be concerned? Or, if “iOS” was called “OS X Tablet edition”, would you like to run LibreOffice on that just because it runs on “OS X”?

    Why don’t you port LibreOffice to Android or iOS? Oh, restrictions, of course! The same applies to Windows RT. It’s another system, another environment, another framework. The “Windows” in the name doesn’t means “it will run every Windows desktop application”.

    Let’s suppose that Microsoft released the complete tooling to build classic/desktop applications for Windows RT. You’ll have to port LibreOffice to ARM platform too. And all those dependencies. And optimize it heavily to run as fast as possible. And change the UI/UX to be more touch-friendly. It would take years to do, too. Oh, and (probably) no one will switch to Metro-style apps.

    Microsoft is trying to be more consumer focused, offering a better user experience in tablets. That’s why they locked down the desktop.

    1. “Why don’t you port LibreOffice to Android or iOS? Oh, restrictions, of course!”

      LibreOffice is being ported to Android.

      “The same applies to Windows RT. It’s another system, another environment, another framework. ”

      I’m not complaining about that. If Microsoft’s Office was put under the same restrictions, it wouldn’t be anticompetitive and I wouldn’t be complaining.

      “Let’s suppose that Microsoft released the complete tooling to build classic/desktop applications for Windows RT. You’ll have to port LibreOffice to ARM platform too. And all those dependencies. And optimize it heavily to run as fast as possible.”

      This is all getting done as the Android and online versions of LibreOffice take shape.
      BTW, LibreOffice already runs on ARM on Linux.

      “And change the UI/UX to be more touch-friendly.”

      It already is quite touch friendly (if you use large icons).

      “It would take years to do, too.”

      No, it could be done quite efficiently. That’s also the reason why Microsoft chose to adjust Office for touch rather than completely redesign it for Metro — it’s much easier to do.

      “Microsoft is trying to be more consumer focused, offering a better user experience in tablets. That’s why they locked down the desktop.”

      Sure. But they should apply the same restrictions to their own software that they apply to other software. Otherwise, it is anticompetitive.

      1. Ouch! I didn’t know about the work on porting to ARM on Android/Linux. Sorry.

        I understand your complains. If Microsoft can’t port their own software to WinRT (framework), it’s broken. Sure. “Eat your own dog food”, Microsoft!

        Maybe I misinterpreted your post. I saw many people complaining about the absence of ARM tooling for Windows RT without technical arguments. Many of them think there is a button named “Make it works on ARM” and automagically it will work. Now, I agree with you in parts.🙂

        Though, if Microsoft enabled the broad porting of existing code, they would have other issues. Like viruses. And for consumers, Office suite will come with every Windows RT device. This will look like a built-in feature, so theoretically there is no need for another suite.

        I hate these crappy restrictions. But I got your point. It is anticompetitive.

  3. What’s the thing with the Ron Paul banner on the right? Have you chosen this ad on purpose? I find political advertising quite inappropriate on a tech blog…😦

    1. Yes, that’s there on purpose.

      It’s one of those “spread the message” buttons that one might like to use on a blog — no harm meant, really. Many non-tech bloggers have buttons like this for LibreOffice or Firefox. Michael Meeks’s blog links to “A Christian Thinktank” — also a “spread the message” kind of deal. You don’t have to agree with the message, but it’s always good to educate yourself, especially when media coverage has been so biased.

      1. Hihi. I was just happy that the “not f’d” image was gone, to be honest. I found that far more offensive (to my taste, nothing else) than a campaign banner for largely irrelevant (it’s true, sorry!) US presidential candidate.

        In any case, I don’t really see Lawrence’ point – this is not a journalistic blog, it’s a personal one, so what’s the problem with putting a clear political message here?

      2. It’s your personal blog, and you should be free to spread whatever messages you like — unless, of course, they’re about hurting someone or some other crazy thing of that nature.

        AND, I’m adding you to my blogroll precisely because of the Ron Paul banner🙂 — and the fact that I love your designs. Ron Paul is a lot more than irrelevant, and I hope the moment he has built in the recent years for his political ideas take root in the US soon. But I digress…

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