The growth of LibreOffice over Microsoft Office

LibreOffice after one and half-years as an open source office productivity suite has grown from being just a fork of (OOo) and emerged as an independent tool for those who prefer the openness and scope of work copyleft offers over claustrophobic copyright licenses and proprietary software. Following the game-changing split and backing by The Document Foundation (TDF) LibreOffice has over 25,000 code commits and 330 contributors. Secondly, it has over 15million Linux OS users, a further 10 million users are split between Microsoft (90-percent) and Mac OS X (5- percent). 

Even as these numbers speak of the domination of LibreOffice over the Office tools segment, there is room for thought, that it will soon break critical mass and move and become the most used office suite as Microsoft Office looks traction because of two major aspects – the phenomenal prices at which each version of the suite is sold and the claustrophobic licensing factor. In contrast LibreOffice, encourages and engages in the opposite, offering any number of downloads and use for almost the same set of tools – for spreadsheets, database creation, Math or desktop publishing. Despite paying due credit to Microsoft’s more mature platform and dedicated development input, the increase in contribution and excellent open governance model is fast moving LibreOffice to streamline its suite and offer a great package.

Additionally, there are umpteen limitations Microsoft Office struggles with – Document Sharing, technical support which is handled by trained office desk personnel as against developers who offer hands-on solutions for LibreOffice suite users. Another very vital and potentially dangerous issue is that of security. Every time Microsoft Office has a security-hole, and there have been many, users are typically unaware of the lurking dearth as they are not informed of such issues. Microsoft usually tries to patch them with standard security updates that they offer.

Interface on LibreOffice is its mainstay; frugal, minimalistic but highly functional and easily accessible. Microsoft’s ribbon interface, though now spread over all its products remains an acquired method.

Microsoft Office is limited to running on Windows or Mac. LibreOffice’s advantage is that not only will it run on other platforms, Windows, Linux or Mac, it actually runs on legacy hardware as well, which is simply not possible with Microsoft Office.

Perhaps, where LibreOffice truly delivers is its agility. With great implementation- in terms of algorithm, architecture and language, minimal layers and a integrated minimal program that LibreOffice has truly delivers on the speed over Microsoft’s Office.

LibreOffice 3.5 includes template creator for Writer, tweaked better performing Calc and elliptical arcs; Additionally, LibreOffice is to be available for tablets and a browser launched online LibreOffice suite. And for commercial users, LibreOffice is to offer integrative features for Microsoft SharePoint.

A recent development in this direction is Intel’s open move to encourage LibreOffice code improvement and offers download via Intel website. SUSE, in fact developed the Windows version of LibreOffice. Intel in fact, is considering adding LibreOffice to its AppUp Center providing users a great alternative to use vendor neutral productivity suite.

  • Carl Mannino

    Libre and OOo have been my main office suite for several years. I type several reports in a day, working in the field of education. It also amazed me the high price people pay for M$ office.

  • zinovsky

    I remember when i was working in SUN Microsystems, the official office suite was Openoffice (Installaed in Solaris), in finance we used to use it to prepare the most complicated reports with all formulas, most will think that can be done only using Microsoft office. I believe that LibreOffice is doing quit well until know, and wish that soon will take more market share

  • GreyGeek77

    “and become the most used office suite as Microsoft Office looks traction because of two”
    should be
    ” and become the most used office suite as Microsoft Office looses traction because of two”

  • BillH

     How about “loses” instead of “looses”. One of my big pet peeves is people who use “loose” and it’s forms when they really mean “lose”.

  • GreyGeek77

     IF that is all you have to complain about life must be pretty great for you.

    Thanks for catching my typo!

  • Stefan

    “Perhaps, where LibreOffice truly
    delivers is its agility. With great implementation- in terms of
    algorithm, architecture and language, minimal layers and a integrated
    minimal program that LibreOffice has truly delivers on the speed over
    Microsoft’s Office.”

    I’d disagree that Libre Office is faster than MS Office. 3.5 is _much_ better/faster than >=3.4 though. Additionally, as a user of both MS :( and Libre Office, IMO MS Office has a better user experience.

    I feel like at the rate the document foundation is going, they will have caught up in two or three versions.

    Right now I think they need to work on two major things:
    1) Better ooxml support (I believe this is planned)
    2) Better user interface (I believe something like this is planned, but details are uncertain at the moment)

    It is really fun to watch Libre Office get better.

  • Fast

    At work, I’m greatly lacking an Outlook replacement that can work with Exchange. Thunderbird & Lightning is not good enough :(

  • george

    libre office needs a “smart art” feature fast. Unfortunately, MS Office is way ahead when you need to visualize information (numbers or text).

  • Olad

    typo2… loses traction, not looses traction…

  • Chris

    The biggest issue for me is that impress doesn’t come close at all to the power or flexibility of powerpoint.. It’s definitely not easier to use. The ooxml support is also a major issue that needs to be fixed

  • Thoreau

     Have you tried Zimbra?

  • Paul Hubert

    Still no real replacement for Microsoft OneNote!

    And, formatting (borders & shading) nonexistent.

    Office remains ahead.

    But nevertheless I remain on Linux!!!

  • Stefan

     I’d guess that his work uses Exchange.

    Is there a way that zimbra can interact with exchange?

  • Carl Friend

    Want port to IOS for Iphone and Ipad.  I also want Gimp ported, Inkscape and Scribus.  I’m not asking for much.

  • Anonymoose

    Missed one of the biggest reasons for using Open/LibreOffice for many — NO Ribbon!  If the Libre community could just make tabbed documents work well, people would convert like a flood.

  • Klau3

    LO is nice and improving fast but an office program is a huge pice of software and has to provide a lot of functions. When going into detail, LO has some quirks. The ‘Form Controls’ toolbox for example supports not horizontaly dynamically growing text boxes, thats bad… and the list goes on.

    LO ist for the most users sufficient.

  • Jvin248

    Look for “Evolution” email with integrated calendar. Actually it’s meant to be used as corporate ‘groupware’. An upgrade at a client using Exchange/Outlook that gave problems with Thunderbird/Lightning (I’ve heard it’s fixed now) worked nicely with Evolution.

  • GeekBoy

    Sorry, but the libreoffice/openoffice user interface is atrocious. I’ve tried to love it, but I can’t. I’m a die hard Linux user but once you’ve gotten use to the MS Office ribbon interface, there is just no going back to the largely incoherent mess that are the libreoffice/ooo menus.

  • GeekBoy

    Evolutions exchange support is spotty and buggy to say the least. IIRC it relies on web scraping Exchange’s OWA (or CAS server as it’s known now.) 

  • GeekBoy

    The only realistic alternative to outlook is outlook over the web in firefox. In exchange 2010 it’s actually much much better than in 2007.

  • Callme Shane

    This is an interesting read….

    While I really DO like Libreoffice.. the lack of font embedding cuts it out of being able to transfer all my work out of dead and dying formats or the use of proprietary software from companies who I regards as scumbags.

    Any product I create via Libre Office be it document, artwork, engineering drawings or presentations etc., done in LO with your own font sets, cannot be transferred via dual booting between Linux or Windows, or it cannot be transferred to a different machine – from home to work or vis versa, and one cannot transfer the work to an independent third party such as peer review, or be sent to the printers, and the product cannot be archived and reopened on a different computer – because ANY work done ON a specific computer with ones own specific font sets, will be completely lost – because the original fonts, on the original machine, are not embedded in the documents produced on that machine.

    QED – it’s an Epic Failure.

    With Open Office and the blooming fork, Libre Office, people have been raising these issues for 20 years, and for 20 years the committees, forum administrators, bugzilla forums, have ALL ignored and shut down any discussion or progress towards making font embedding the defacto or default setting.

    While Microsoft, Word Perfect, Adobe and even really obscure office programs such as Abi office, etc., etc., etc. – they ALL have font embedding.

    So the Open Office and Libre Office products and the committees that all drive these programs – have an epic failure on their hands and they are doing NOTHING to address it.

    Have a read up on this topic via the article….

  • WarrenG

     I normally don’t post to forums, but this thread was just too good to pass up…when correcting another person’s typos, please be sure you don’t have any of your own.

    “it’s” should be “its”. *It’s*=contraction of ‘it is’, whereas *its* is a possessive word.

    Just saying…

  • Stephen Leibowitz

    LibreOffice already has an extension for SharePoint. It is called LPSP. The extension catalog also has document connectors for WebDAV, Alfresco, Google Docs, and Zoho.

  • James

    After 10 years of development, OpenOffice/LibreOffice still sucks at reliable conversion to and from MS Office documents.

  • Ryan

    Evolution is better than Microsoft crap. Period. However Exchange is a brain-damaged product and if you’re using that you have bigger problems than spotty client support.

  • Random

    Another great thing in LibreOffice: Formulas. In MS Office they are a complete pain to make and you constantly have to be clicking and then switching to the keyboard, then repeat a million times. In LibreOffice I can quickly type out fractions and other things using the simple syntax.

  • Pierce

    MS office sucks at building proprietary document formats. And it sucks much worse at handling .odt document formats.

  • Googly Googly

    MS office sucks. You have to purchase every 2 or 5 years. OS and and Office suite.