Microsoft Office vs LibreOffice vs OpenOffice

Microsoft Office, LibreOffice and OpenOffice are all programs that have the same goal in mind. In fact, they are all really clones of one another. Pretty much anything that is in Microsoft Office is in both LibreOffice and OpenOffice, and the latter both have the same features and programs in them. What makes LibreOffice and OpenOffice the better choice, though? They are both free of charge and are open source. Unlike Microsoft Office, which is proprietary software, the other two can be changed and edited by anyone and everyone. This, mixed with their entirely free nature, has been catapulting them to being a viable piece of software for people in both personal and business settings. After all, if you can do everything with them as well, why not use them?

The Separation: LibreOffice and OpenOffice

When I first started to use the free word processing software, it was with OpenOffice. I originally found out about it through Ubuntu, which it was bundled with, and I fell in love with it. I realized it was the same program I was already used to but that it had no cost. Of course, being that it is not a Microsoft Office clone (or, at least not exactly), getting things accomplished is a bit different between the programs. Even so, learning how to get things done is not a big problem since you can Google most things you want to do and hit on either someone else explaining how it is done (through a guide or a video) or the manual itself with directions. It has a very large community backing it, making it pretty easy to find help any time it is needed.

It was not until a year or so ago that I found out about LibreOffice. I was actually a bit confused because Ubuntu made the change from OpenOffice to LibreOffice. Both of the programs feel and work the same way, and I am really not sure of any differences between the two (aside from their names and colors; even the launch splash screen is the same). Based on my understanding, though, most people moved over to LibreOffice, so I decided to make the move as well. I fully support open source software, and keeping up with what the others in the community are using is a big part of helping support (and receive support from) it. In fact, as I type this up right now, I am utilizing LibreOffice Writer.

The Programs Included

OpenOffice and LibreOffice both include the major players in Microsoft Office. The main ones, though, are Excel (Calc) and Word (Writer). Along with this, both of the open source versions allow saving to the same exact format as Microsoft Office, so you can use the open source at home and use the proprietary at work (or just send to someone with it). On top of this, the open sources can even read from Microsoft's formats. This means that you are not limited only to those that use Writer, Calc, etc. and instead you are able to receive and send to absolutely anyone. You just need to be sure to save your documents in the right format for whoever is going to be receiving it.

Add Ons

There are many extensions or add ons that you can obtain that work to extend the functionality of the programs. If there is some feature you would like, you can probably find it as an add on. And if not, you can always go and create it on your own. There is also a big support community for these, so if you are looking for something and it does not already exist, you can make a request and someone else might be willing to help make it if they deem it as being worth their time and effort.


Many people are used to using templates in their documents, as it helps speed up the creation process. This is fully supported by both OpenOffice and LibreOffice, and they can both read from and write to the Microsoft Office versions. So even if you plan to use templates to do your drafting, there are no problems there either!

PDF Generation

One of the biggest selling points for me (even though the programs are free) is that you can export your documents in to the PDF format. I do a lot of writing and things where PDF generation is important, and it is nice to be able to just do it straight from the document itself. And the best part? There are no add ons or external things needed in order to make it happen! Plus it supports the same features you would normally find in the full version of Adobe Acrobat; the ability to compress the PDF, add passwords and lock different features depending on what you want the recipient to be able to do with the documents.


OpenOffice and LibreOffice are by far the best things I have found in the free software world. They offer the same features and feel I am used to in my documents, with a completely free and open source wrapper. Getting others to make the move has also proven to be pretty simple, in that everything is the same as they are used to, so there is not a big learning curve or anything (although there are things here and there that are slightly different and do require a bit of reading to fully understand). The projects have both been going strong over the years, and their success makes me hopeful that we may run across other similar projects in the future. While we do have things like Ubuntu that are awesome in their own right, having alternatives that are more like what we are used to would go a long way towards turning people from utilizing proprietary software to using open source. Now we just have to hope that at some point we get an open source version of DirectX!


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