10 reasons you should use LibreOffice and not Microsoft Word

If you've been considering moving away from Microsoft Word, here are some solid reasons why LibreOffice might be the right choice for you.

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The Document Foundation just released version 5.2 of its fully open source office suite LibreOffice. This release brings many new features and UI improvements. When I got the press release, I started updating LibreOffice on my MacBook. But here's the thing: I'm also a user of Microsoft Word.

That made me pause and consider why I use LibreOffice when I am forking over $99 a year to Microsoft. The flash of introspection surprised me. I'm an unabashed open source and Linux fan, but I am kind of agnostic when it comes to the tools I use. I use what works for me. So I reached out to my followers on Google+ and Facebook to learn about their reasons for using LibreOffice.

Here are some of the many reasons why people, myself included, love LibreOffice.

Interoperability: If you have ever used both Microsoft Word and LibreOffice on the same document, you may have noticed that LibreOffice often encounters problems opening files that were created or edited using Microsoft Office. Don't be too quick to blame LibreOffice.

According to Italo Vignoli of the Document Foundation, Microsoft uses non-standard version of its own OOXML format in Office products, which creates interoperability issues. On top of that, says Vignoli, Microsoft uses default proprietary fonts that break compatibility with other office suites. If you want to ensure interoperability, you should use LibreOffice and save your documents in the ISO approved Open Document Format (ODF).

Future-proofing: Microsoft is in great health and shows no signs of going away anytime soon, but you never know.  If the company suddenly ceased to exist or shuts down the product or doesn’t support the previous version of a file format you won't be able to access your files. Case in point: Some users have reported not being able to open older .doc files with latest version of Microsoft Office. With LibreOffice you can leave your OpenDocument Text (ODT) files in a time capsule and open them decades later.

It’s open source: If you're among those who don’t trust any software whose source code they can’t see, then LibreOffice is your obvious choice. Whereas Microsoft Office is a fully proprietary technology, LibreOffice is a fully open source project developed publicly.

Better support for formats: LibreOffice has built-in support for ODF and many other file formats. As a rule I never save any of my files on non-standard formats like docx. All my files are stored either as ODF or .txt, and LibreOffice does a much better job at dealing with ODT files.

Cost: I pay $99 per year for my Office 365 subscription, whereas I can get LibreOffice for free of cost and I can use it on as many computers as I want. The cost issue is even more important for businesses that pay by the user.

Upload files to Google Drive: Documents can easily be uploaded directly from LibreOffice to Google Drive. LibreOffice also supports ssh (among other services and protocols), so I can easily upload my files directly to a remote server. The downside for Linux users is that Google Drive isn't available for Linux.

You can use it on Linux: Microsoft Office isn't available for Linux and it had been a second class citizen on macOS for a very long time. If you are someone like me who hops between macOS, Windows and Linux then LibreOffice is your only choice.

You can use it on Linux mobile: Canonical and the KDE community are working on developing their own Linux-based mobile platforms. LibreOffice can be easily installed and used on these platforms. I haved used LibreOffice on Ubuntu tablets and it works great. There is no Microsoft Office for Ubuntu tablets and phones.

Suggest new features: Because it's an open source project, anyone can contribute to LibreOffice and add features that they want. That's especially useful for businesses that have developers they can dedicate to adding features they need to LibreOffice. Collabora is a good example.  They offer LibreOffice-based enterprise solutions and are among the top contributors to the LibreOffice code base. Companies like Canonical, SUSE and Red Hat are also among the leading contributors. By contrast, Microsoft Word is proprietary software developed solely by Microsoft.

Take control of security: No software is bug-proof. But because LibreOffice is fully open source technology anyone can submit a patch for a LibreOffice vulnerability. When there's a bug in Microsoft Office, users have to wait for Microsoft to patch it. That’s true with any proprietary product.

Conclusion

These are some of the reasons the people I polled said they prefer LibreOffice over Microsoft Office. Why do you use LibreOffice or Microsoft Office? Or what do you use instead?

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