LibreOffice - "free" your office from software subscriptions!
Linda Sasenick profile photo
March 27, 2018

LibreOffice - "free" your office from software subscriptions!

Score 10 out of 10
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Overall Satisfaction with LibreOffice

We use LibreOffice for all of our word processing and spreadsheet needs, as a free, open-sourced substitute for Microsoft Office. It also offers a full "suite" of services, including presentations, drawing, and database, and most importantly, we've had very few problems converting from and to other vendors' formats with LibreOffice. For us, it is a low cost (free!) solution for written communications, data management (we primarily use the spreadsheet), and other spreadsheet functions.
  • LibreOffice does a remarkably good job of converting files in other vendors' formats, generally with little loss of function or format (e.g., opening and manipulating other .doc or .docx files from Microsoft Office).
  • Just because it's free doesn't mean its functionality is limited! I can't think of any Office function or feature which isn't also available from LibreOffice.
  • Have a variety of users, devices and operating systems? No problem, LibreOffice is a "cross-platform" suite, available for Linux, Windows, Mac, tablets and Androids.
  • There are some quirks, and finding the solution isn't always easy. For example, spreadsheet files in CSV format can be tricky to open if specifics about the "delimiter" (tab, comma, etc.) are provided in detail. I've had to play "guess the delimiter" and use trial and error to open a number of popular CSV export formats (particularly when exporting/importing contacts between programs).
  • LibreOffice's extended functionality is expanded by "extensions," however, some of these extensions either fail in the installation or don't work (in particular, the grammar extension).
  • It's a minor thing, but it would be great if the spell check would prompt with the correct spelling, instead of just the red underline.
  • The upfront and on-going cost of LibreOffice is $0 - keeping overhead down is essential for many of us small business owners.
  • Having a full suite of communications and data tools available for free (which we can save in our clients' preferred software formats, btw), keeps us looking professional.
  • Every dollar we're NOT investing in software, where a fully functional, free alternative is available, is money we can put toward other business optimizations, such as marketing, hardware, device upgrades, etc.
The most ubiquitous office suite now is of course, Microsoft Office. Microsoft Office offers very good tools, but is very Microsoft/Windows "centric" - understandably they want to tie users to the Microsoft/Windows universe. I'm a big proponent of open source operating systems and software - they're very "bottom-line" friendly (free!), and generally work across platforms. If I'm getting the same (and sometimes better) functionality without the cost and restrictive environment, why wouldn't I choose open source?
LibreOffice is by far, from my experience, the best, budget-friendly (free!) office suite out there, well-suited for any business with "average" written communication, presentation and data management needs (again, a working grammar check function is something that needs improvement). If your work requires highly individualized or specialized functions -- such as custom fonts -- or if you commonly download or exchange complex and customized documents with others, I'd stick to whatever software is in common use for that application.