Microsoft Office is one of the most used applications in both home and professional environments. Yet there are free alternatives available that offer the same set of features and possibilities. Both LibreOffice and OpenOffice are free and open-source office suite and as good or even better compared to the market leader Microsoft Office.

Microsoft continues to influence the professional work and home office environment with its software solutions. Both Windows and Microsoft Office are common tools in many companies and households. However, the later has open-source alternatives.

LibreOffice and OpenOffice are two open-source office suites. They offer tools such as Writer, Calc and Impress to compete with the Microsoft Office applications known as Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel and Microsoft PowerPoint.

Word processing, spreadsheets and presentation tools

Seen the demand for cost efficient word processing, spreadsheet and presentation tools, these free and open-source solutions are a great option with a few benefits and drawbacks. One of which is the absence of a basic email client. Microsoft Office does includes an email and calendar tool in the Office suite better known as Microsoft Outlook

More basic design

Microsoft Office is best known for its convenient and modern interface. It is seen as the standard for how a good and user-friendly office tools should work and look. LibreOffice and OpenOffice use a more traditional interface comparable to the older versions of Microsoft Office.

The design works and it comes down to personal preferences. The open-source tools of LibreOffice and OpenOffice may look less attractive compared to the more modern looking Microsoft Office software solution, but they offer similar word processing, spreadsheets and presentation tools.

Compatible file formats

Microsoft has established different file standards such as .doc and .docx for Word documents, .xls and .xlsx for Excel spreadsheets and .ppt and .pptx for PowerPoint presentations.

LibreOffice and OpenOffice use open-source standards for their document files, but they are able to read and write files using the more common Microsoft Office file standards. Seen the current standards set by Microsoft Office, there may be some translation issues.

One document type to solve all issues

The open-source software solutions may be able to read and write .doc and .docx files, the layout is often changed due to translation issues between the open-source alternatives and the commercial Microsoft Office software. These changes may become a problem when you transfer files between the two types of office suites.

These translation issue can be solved when you decide to export the document as a PDF file. Such a document ensures that users with different software solutions see the document in the same manner as the creator intended it to be. Please note, you will not be able to edit the content of the PDF file.

Spelling and grammar mistakes

File types and technical differences do not tell the entire story. The consistent performance of the tools remains the most important aspect in the choice between open-source and commercial software solutions. Microsoft Office and open-source alternatives such as LibreOffice and OpenOffice differ in terms of design and menus. However, there is one more difference to discuss.

The language support in LibreOffice and OpenOffice is not as consistent as the built-in spell and grammar checker in Microsoft Office. These tools will detect basic errors, but, you may notice that text written and corrected in the open-source alternate contain more errors and mistakes than the same text corrected in Microsoft Office.

Cost efficient for home and professional users

The support in Microsoft Office may be better, but the software costs more compared to open-source solutions. OpenOffice and LibreOffice are both available for free. Microsoft Office, on the other hand, costs at least 149.99 euros.

If you decide to work with LibreOffice or OpenOffice, you do not have to purchase additional licenses to install and use the software on multiple devices at home or in the office. There is no additional license cost. Updates to the latest versions of the open-source applications are also provided for free.

Perform the same tasks

It remains remarkable that an open-source tool such as LibreOffice or OpenOffice is able to compete with commercial solutions. The difference in support may explain the cost of the Microsoft Office software for enterprises, but most users have more than enough options in the available open-source alternatives.

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Disclaimer. This post contains copyrighted images from OpenOffice, an open-source software solution developed and produced by the Apache Software Foundation. The fair use of copyrighted works for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting or research is not considered as an infringement of copyright.

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