Microsoft Office
(Photo : Unsplash/ Glenn Carstens-Peters) Microsoft office app

LibreOffice is the premier open-source office suite, and it is the default office package on most Linux distributions. However, can a free product go head-to-head with Microsoft Office?

Microsoft Office and LibreOffice

There are numerous ways to get Microsoft Office. You can purchase it, and install it on your desktop. You can take out a Microsoft 365 subscription that includes Microsoft Office, according to Online Tech Tips.

You still get applications to run on the desktop, but as long as you maintain your subscription your software will always be upgrade to the latest version.

LibreOffice can be downloaded for free. You can download and install it and you can begin using it. It is desktop only. Microsoft cloud-based versions of their applications that you can use in your browser.

LibreOffice does not offer anything like that at all, and it does it bundle cloud storage as Microsoft does.

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Microsoft Office runs on Microsoft Windows, iOS, macOS, and Android. LibreOffice runs on Windows, macOS, and Linux, including a new experimental build compiled for Apple Silicon processors.

Microsoft Office includes Word, which is a processing program; Excel, which is a spreadsheet program; PowerPoint, a presentation software; and OneNote, a note-taking software.

Depending on which version of Microsoft Office you purchase or subscribe to, you will also get some or all of these packages: Outlook; an email client; Teams, a team communication and collaboration client; Publisher, a desktop publishing program; and Access, a database management system.

Meanwhile, LibreOffice includes these applications: Writer, a word processing program; Calc, a spreadsheet program; Impress, a presentation software; Draw, a vector graphics application; and Base, a database management system.

By default, it uses the HSQLDB but work is afoot to migrate to Firebird. You might need to install Base separately. On many Linux distributions, it is not part of the core LibreOffice offering.

If you need functionality that is not included in LibreOffice, like an email client, desktop publishing application, or a messaging and collaboration program.

You have a lot of open-source options to select from including well-known examples like Thunderbird, Scribus, and Rocket Chat.

Of course, they won't have the same look and feel as the rest of the office suite, and they won't be tightly integrated, according to HowtoGeek.

Fundamental Differences

The biggest over-arching difference between the Microsoft Office and LibreOffice suites is their radically different approaches to cloud storage, according to LifeWire.

LibreOffice does not do cloud natively, although The Document Foundation has worked on something called LibreOffice Online. This is a tool for cloud providers-public or private-to incorporate into their offering.

It needs to be integrated with authentication and storage solutions to be functional. At the time of writing LibreOffice Online is frozen, pending further announcements.

Microsoft Office allows you to save locally or to your OneDrive storage natively and naturally, from within the application.

Microsoft also provides you online versions of the core office suite applications so you can be productive even when you're away from your regular computer.

LibreOffice has partial support for Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications macros. LibreOffice has its own macro language, of course, but supports most of the VBA common usage patterns too.

Macros aren't exactly mainstream usage, though. Most people want to write documents, crunch some numbers, and give a presentation.

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Written by Sophie Webster

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