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Microsoft, Adobe beat open source developers to Android

Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop have somehow made it to Android before their Linux counterparts. What kind of world is this?

Android guys
Credit: amika san via Flickr

I am…flummoxed.

Microsoft has released a full, complete version of its Office suite for Android… yet the Document Foundation (the folks behind LibreOffice) has not. Which, if I'm not mistaken, means we are living in the Twilight Zone.

That's right. Microsoft – the company whose former CEO famously called Linux a "cancer" – has developed and released the key applications in its Office suite (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote) for the world's most popular Linux-powered platform… Android.

I've been running Word and Excel for Android for the last month or so on both my Nexus 7 tablet and my Android-powered laptop. And, while they're not perfect (a few bugs and performance issues here and there), they are extremely usable and, to be honest, pretty damned nice.

LibreOffice (and OpenOffice) are nowhere to be seen. There's a viewer application provided by LibreOffice… but it's just that. A viewer. No editing capability.

Adobe, some time back, also released a version of Photoshop for Android tablets. Sure, it's not as powerful as the traditional desktop version of Photoshop (specifically, the text tool doesn't support multi-line text), but it's really quite powerful. And it runs remarkably well on an Android laptop.

But where is The Gimp? Adobe has brought a version of its flagship software to an open source, Linux-based platform… yet the open source king of graphics editing (The Gimp) is nowhere to be seen. There is a rather hacky way to run a full version of Xubuntu on Android and run Gimp from there… it just doesn't do things like use the Android clipboard, etc.

I mean, what sort of crazy, mixed up world do we live in? Microsoft and Adobe have built and released native versions of their cash-cow applications for Linux (in the form of Android), yet mainstays of the open source and Linux world have not.

Right now, I can go out and buy an Android laptop or desktop (there are a few nice ones available from the likes of HP, ASUS, and Acer) and run Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop on them. On Linux. Just a few years ago, a lot of people would have laughed at just the idea. "Microsoft and Adobe? Supporting Linux? Maybe when pigs fly out of a frozen hell!"

And yet, here we are. Office on Linux. Right in front of me. It has broken my brain.

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