Weird Unofficial LibreOffice Version Shows Up in the Microsoft Store

Jul 24, 2018

Unknown developer wants you to pay $2.99 for a free tool.

A unofficial version of LibreOffice shows up in the Windows Store. The app was published by an obscure developer under the name ‘.net’. There is no additional information about the developer. Clicking on the URL takes you to another app by the developer named ‘dress my doll.’

How did this app make it into the store? Given the volume of apps submitted to Microsoft Store, App Store, and Google Play, it’s virtually impossible for these vendors to vet each app manually. They all have an automated process.

Microsoft also has a certification process, “When you finish creating your app's submission and click “Submit to the Store,” the submission enters the certification step. This process is usually completed within a few hours, though in some cases it may take up to three business days. After your submission passes certification, it can take up to 24 hours for customers to see the app’s listing for a new submission, or for an updated submission with changes to packages. If your update only changes Store listing details, the publishing process will be completed in less than an hour. You’ll be notified when your submission is published, and the app's status in the dashboard will be In the Store.”

It’s not clear if Microsoft also validates the authenticity of the app. It’s not surprising that an app like LibreOffice would slip through the certification process and be available to users. Since LibreOffice is a fully open source project, anyone can compile it and redistribute the app, as long as they follow the terms of the license.

I reached out to The Document Foundation (TDF), the organization responsible for LibreOffice, and Italo Vignoli, one of the co-founders of TDF told me, “The Document Foundation has been made aware of an unofficial version of LibreOffice on the Windows Store. We are investigating further, but we want to be clear: this is not an official version created by The Document Foundation, so the app's page is misleading. The only official source of the software (which can be downloaded for free, i.e., without any cost for the end user) is LibreOffice website. Also, the money from the Windows Store version is not collected by The Document Foundation.”

My advice is to not download and install the app from Windows Store as we are not sure if there is any malicious code in it. Microsoft says it checks for malicious code before any app is published, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

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