The key difference between LibreOffice and Microsoft is that LibreOffice is a free open source office suite, while Microsoft Office is a commercial office suite that requires users to purchase a license. Both will run on multiple platforms and offer similar features.
LibreOffice will run on Windows, Mac and Linux. There are versions of Microsoft Office for Windows and Mac. However, running Microsoft Office on Linux can be tricky.
Beyond the economy, there are several ways to weigh which office suite will work for you in the long run. Below is a comparison between LibreOffice and Microsoft Office to help you make an informed decision.
We will compare:
- File compatibility.
- Cloud services.
- User support.
The key to choosing between LibreOffice and Microsoft Office is the programs they offer.
Both sets of products have similar productivity tools that perform the same functions. LibreOffice includes the following programs:
- Spreadsheet: Calc
- Word Processing: Writer
- Presentations: Impress
- Database: Base
- Math: formula editor
- Drawing: vector graphics
Microsoft Office (365 Personal Subscriptions) offers:
- Spreadsheet: Excel
- Word Processing: Word
- Presentations: PowerPoint
- Database: Access (PC Users Only)
- Email: Outlook
- Desktop Publishing: Publisher (PC Users Only)
One of the main differences is that LibreOffice does not come with an email program like Outlook from Microsoft Office. However, using the add-in is easy enough. For example, Thunderbird is a feature-rich free email application.
LibreOffice is compatible with most common Microsoft Office file formats, including XLSX, DOCX, and PPTX. It is also compatible with other third party product formats.
However, Microsoft Office documents don’t always look the same in LibreOffice. One of the reasons is that Microsoft is using its own fonts.
Another reason is that the data is displayed and interpreted on the screen differently in both product packages. This can be a problem if you frequently exchange files with others. In this case, it may be more convenient to use the same set of products.
As far as Microsoft Office is concerned, newer versions of their products are often incompatible with older versions of their own products. If you open and try to save a Microsoft document from someone using a different version, you will see a message stating that some features are not supported by earlier versions.
The notice also advises that unsupported features may be lost or downgraded when the document is saved. You can continue or cancel to save the file in the new format.
LibreOffice surpasses Microsoft Office in file compatibility because it supports many other formats, including the built-in ability to export documents as eBooks (EPUB).
LibreOffice vs. Microsoft Office: Toolbars
The set of toolbars at the top of a window is called a ribbon toolbar in programs. It is designed to help users quickly find the commands they want to use.
The most recent versions of Microsoft Office have limited customization options. You can:
- Customize the arrangement of commands and tabs to arrange them in the order you want.
- Hide or show the ribbon, and commands you don’t use. I don’t use it often.
- Import or export a customized ribbon.
You will not be able to reduce the size of the ribbon or the icons and text on the ribbon.
Toolbars in LibreOffice work differently. They work like older versions of Microsoft Office. However, in the latest version (6.2) LibreOffice introduced an additional user interface called NotebookBar
If enabled, NotebookBar groups toolbars by grouping them into tabs. You can switch between tabs to access various options and functions.
It offers a wider range of user interface styles than Microsoft Office.
When you buy a Microsoft Office license, Microsoft OneDrive is built into all programs. It has more storage space than a free OneDrive account and is the default save location for all your documents.
LibreOffice does not include cloud storage. You can use services such as OneDrive (no Office), Dropbox, or another cloud storage provider to sync files to the cloud.
By paying for a Microsoft Office license, you also buy customer support. You can use an online chatbot, live chat support, or make a call to talk to a live person. In addition, Microsoft has published a set of tutorials to help you use their products.
LibreOffice, like all open source platforms, relies on the help of community users who volunteer their time and expertise. Since the product is free, no support is required, so you may have to wait a bit to get your questions answered.
There is no phone support either. This can be a problem if you are working on a project that is time sensitive. However, there is a wealth of information and help available in the form of community support
LibreOffice vs. Microsoft Office – Which One is Best for You?
LibreOffice provides a robust suite of office products for free. They are maintained and improved by a community of dedicated developers. What it lacks in products or functionality compared to Microsoft Office can in some cases be compensated for by adding applications or add-ons.
The most significant difference between the two is how they work across platforms and the Internet. Microsoft Office puts a lot of emphasis on the cloud and allows users to open and save files anywhere. It also allows you to use their products on a wide variety of devices, including phones, tablets, and computers.
In addition, LibreOffice works on macOS, Linux and Windows. Users can only view files on Android and iOS.
Which one is best will depend on your specific needs and requirements. One is not better or worse than the other.