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Idealware does a head-to-head comparison of the three office suites Dan Rivas - May 11, How do open-source productivity suites compare to Office — and does it make sense for your organization to choose free, community-based software rather than the commercially licensed offering from Microsoft?


We compare three toolsets on philosophy, price, and features to help you decide. Get Microsoft Office Idealware is a small nonprofit is an option possible in ooo helps other nonprofits make smart decisions about software. For more information, visit Idealware's website. Microsoft Office continues to dominate the productivity software marketplace.

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However, open-source options such as Apache OpenOffice and the Document Foundation's LibreOffice have emerged — and many users feel they are as good or better than Microsoft Office. How do these open-source suites differ from Microsoft Office? Should your nonprofit consider one of them? To help you decide, we compared key features of the version of Microsoft's productivity suite to Apache OpenOffice 4.

Both open-source suites offer tools with the same names — Writer word processingCalc spreadsheetsand Impress slide presentations — to compete with Microsoft's equivalent products — Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. The open-source options also include "Base," binary robots database similar to Microsoft Access; a tool called "Draw" that's similar to Microsoft Visio; a chart-creation module called "Charts"; and an equation editor called "Math.

Office also includes Outlook. Neither of the open-source alternatives provides an email or calendaring tool or an analogue for OneNote. For the purposes of this article, we'll is an option possible in is an option possible in ooo on word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation tools.

Open Source Versus Commercial Before we look at specific features of the competing suites, it may be helpful to take a step back. Let's compare the philosophical differences between the three packages and how those differences might affect how you purchase and use the suites.

Commercially licensed software, such as Microsoft Office, is developed by a independent training in trading vendor. Its sales help fund product development, testing, marketing, salaries, and shareholder dividends. In contrast, open-source software is developed collaboratively, often by volunteers, and made available for free. Anyone who wishes to use, redistribute, adapt, or improve the code can do so without permission or payment of any kind.

For the rest of you, each model has tangible advantages and disadvantages that we'll look at in closer detail. It is born out of is an option possible in ooo deep distrust of large corporations, an enthusiasm for individual innovation, and a belief that community action is effective in solving problems. Not surprisingly, it can attract loyal adherents who are committed to sharing information and building better software.

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On the other hand, some consumers are more comfortable with a for-profit model they feel rewards and incentivizes ingenuity. If you have deep a conviction in either direction, it's not likely that we'll change your mind. First, the cost: Open-source applications often cost nothing. OpenOffice and LibreOffice are both how do you make money online. Updates to the latest-and-greatest versions of the open-source applications are also free, but the same is not always true for Microsoft Office users.

Office users who want to upgrade to Office have to pay for the new edition, for example. However, smaller updates between major releases are free. Note: If you currently hold a valid license of Office with Software Assurancea support-and-benefits service available to volume-licensing customers, you may be able to upgrade to newer versions released during your coverage period for free.

Related to price, licensing is another advantage of open-source software. You don't have to worry about how many copies of LibreOffice you've installed at home or the office. There's no cost no matter how many times you download or install it.

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However, when you buy or receive a version of Officeyou may only install it on a specified number of computers within your organization — the number depends on which edition of the suite you purchase, so you'll need to keep track of exactly where it's been installed.

Another advantage of open-source code — if you're a programmer — is that you can do what you like with it. You can study OpenOffice or LibreOffice and customize it to your needs, binary option vk it, or use the code to create something completely new and release your changes to the public.

Unless you're a programmer or have one on staff, this may not be a feature you need, but for some users it's a valuable selling point. Microsoft doesn't offer anything comparable. What Microsoft does offer is a company that has a strong incentive to create applications that it can sell.

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This means its features, support, and interface need to be attractive enough for users to purchase year after year. Microsoft has built a vast pool of talented developers, a mature platform, and polished user interfaces. Also, by virtue of being the largest software provider in this space, there are hundreds of Microsoft Office suite experts who can help troubleshoot issues and offer tips for power users.

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The mandates for open-source applications also tend trading for blondes be fuzzy. Tech-savvy programmers are not always focused on the interface or user experience.

Documentation can be spotty. However, because open-source code is available to all, OpenOffice and LibreOffice are not solely dependent on their current crop of developers and corporate sponsors. Even if all those people supporting the project were to disappear, the code would still exist, and other people could pick up where they left off. Commercial products tend to keep their code secret, so if the company goes under, so does the software.

That said, it is unlikely Microsoft will be unable to support its Office suite in the foreseeable future. What About Office ?

Open Source Versus Commercial

Office is the online software subscription version of Microsoft Office. It offers all of the tools available in the desktop version of Office and many more that are not available for download.

Users simply have an account that gives them online access to their Office apps and the files created on those apps. Qualified nonprofits and libraries can get Office for free or at discountdepending on which plan they choose. It's no secret that Microsoft wants to move more people to its software as a service SaaS model, where upgrades and new features are automatic and customers are locked into an annual payment to use their product.

Critics of Microsoft don't like the feeling of being "locked" into regular payments and worry that they will lose control of their data.

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Of course, there are benefits to a Internet-based Office as well, namely the increased ability to share documents and access them on multiple devices. However you feel about Officethis article focuses on the desktop version of Office because it's a more apples-to-apples comparison with the open-source options.

As a result, many of the new features in the online version of Office will not be covered here.

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Comparing Office Productivity Suites Whether open source or commercial, how do each of the three suites compare against the others? First, a little about the two open-source tools: OpenOffice and LibreOffice are very similar products.

In fact, they were both built upon the same source code. When Sun Microsystems acquired OpenOffice, and was subsequently taken over by Oracle, the community split and LibreOffice was created in parallel.

The OpenOffice project has since been handed over to the Apache Foundation.

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For practical purposes, users won't see much of a difference between the two tools, although it's generally believed that LibreOffice is quicker to update and offer new features. Many past innovations in the Microsoft Office user interface were met with scorn and frustration — most notably the introduction of the "ribbon" toolbar in Office Office is similar in look and feel to the previous version, which means the ribbon is still there.

Hopefully you're used to it by now. There's a new gray theme that improves visibility for some users and more charts in Excel, but for the most part Microsoft has decided that its desktop offering is sticking to the basics. However, a few new usability features stand out. If you've ever been working on a document and suddenly wanted to find more information, you can now get what you need without switching screens.

You just select the text and choose Smart Lookup from the Home menu. Office also offers more targeted help. Its new Tell Me feature lets you type in a binary options strategy indexstat of the feature you need and spits out links that will take you directly there.

Outlook also makes it just a little easier to send a document in an email by using its Recent Documents feature. OpenOffice and LibreOffice, on the other hand, lack the ribbon toolbar and instead offer a more traditional interface — which makes them intriguing options for Office 's steadfast supporters. Anyone who has used Word or Excel will feel comfortable using their open-source competitors, Write and Calc, while those familiar with newer versions of Office will find them somewhat retro.

This is not to say that the open-source applications aren't also improving usability. LibreOffice has worked to simplify its menus while providing finer controls for charts and images across all of its applications. System Requirements OpenOffice, LibreOffice, and Microsoft Office will all work fine on most computers, but if your office machines are significantly older, slower, or less powerful than the average modern machine, you'll find OpenOffice and LibreOffice better suited is an option possible in ooo Office However, both open-source options need Java installed to take advantage of certain features, most notably Base.

Office requires at least Windows 7 Service Pack 1, but notes that Windows 10 offers the "best experience. In addition, both open-source suites will run on most Mac computers running OS X In order to run the new Microsoft Office on a Mac, you no longer need to subscribe to Officeas was is an option possible in ooo with Office It's especially true for older computers that require additional applications such as those that as you might find in a public computer lab setting.

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Support If your IT team is small — or nonexistent — you can expect to need occasional support from other sources. Thanks to Microsoft's vastness, there's more support for Office than anyone could possibly take advantage of. It includes official support from Microsoft, authorized support from licensed vendors and consultants, and professional call centers. Plus there are dozens of books and countless websites offering tips and guides for modifying, configuring, and using Office software.

However, some users report difficulty getting support for Office ; Microsoft appears to be encouraging consumers to switch to the subscription-based Office Some free resources specifically for nonprofits exist, but expect such tailored support to cost more.

Support for OpenOffice and LibreOffice is community-driven and generally free, and includes documentation projects and volunteer-led discussion forums.

With these open-source projects, common issues and bugs are often addressed through updates. In general, LibreOffice's development community tends to address these issues more quickly and release updates more frequently than the OpenOffice community.

Users more familiar with Microsoft's ecosystem may find this support model unfamiliar, and may feel more comfortable with training and support for Microsoft Office. Document Sharing In general, files created by all three suites can be read by the others, although there are caveats. In the case of OfficeMicrosoft has established de facto file standards such as. If you need to share files with anyone running Office or older, you may need to convert them to older formats. Microsoft offers a free utility to do this.

Apache OpenOffice and LibreOffice, on the other hand, use open standards for their native files, but can read and write files using Microsoft's format.

Add an attachment proposed patch, testcase, etc. Note You need to log in before you can comment on or make changes to this issue. It also needs the MS Word "Normal" view, which shows just the text, with no left hand margin space, and no extra space for page breaks just a dotted line. I write a lot of simple text and don't need extra formatting, and all the extra space taken up for margins and page breaks is just useless to me. I much prefer a more "text editor" type approach, which MS Word supports.

In fact, users can choose to automatically save files in. The open-source community has invested a lot of effort in ensuring that Writer, Calc, and Impress users can share documents with Microsoft users, and has succeeded in all but a few specific cases. If you've created Word documents that make extensive use of columns, header formats, or embedded images, the file is likely to show up in Writer with minor formatting issues.

These formatting problems will have to be adjusted manually. These adjustments aren't likely to be prohibitive for a document or two, but could be time-consuming for a whole library of templates and collateral.

However, both OpenOffice and LibreOffice have begun to implement better support for Microsoft file formats — for example, LibreOffice has improved its utility to import. Office and its open-source competitors are also incompatible when it comes to macros or spreadsheet pivot tables. All three suites do support both features in OpenOffice and LibreOffice, pivot tables are created with a feature called Data Pilot.

However, you will not be able to use macros or pivot tables created in Office with the open-source tools, or vice versa. You may also have minor issues translating charts between the suites' spreadsheet programs. Interestingly, OpenOffice can open files that have been saved in substantially older versions of Microsoft Office than Office can.

Open Space can even open some corrupted Word files that Office can't.


For an IT department, it might be worth having a copy installed for that reason alone. Finally, all three applications provide the ability to export any file as a PDF, ensuring that viewers see the document exactly as you intended. Keep in mind, compatibility issues are only relevant if documents are being passed back and forth between people using different software. If your whole organization is using the same office tools and you don't frequently exchange documents with people outside your organization, then you don't have to worry.

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Remote Access In OfficeMicrosoft continues the web collaboration features it introduced in Office and Office Its integration with OneDrive formerly SkyDrive makes documents portable and easy to edit on multiple devices. Office also has the ability to collaborate in real time on a desktop version of Microsoft Word or PowerPoint.

To take advantage of this feature, is an option possible in ooo need to hit the Share button and direct who they want to share the document with.

Microsoft Office vs. OpenOffice.Org

They also must have a shared folder in OneDrive — a Microsoft online storage service. LibreOffice has recently ventured out into the mobile, online world.

It offers mobile apps and allows users to connect to some online storage services. It has also promised an online version to rival Office and Google Docs, but the release is still in a "preview" or testing phase. OpenOffice has an extension that allows users to access and save files to online storage services, but does not currently offer an online version.

Make sure you or your IT staff install updates and patches as soon as they're released, and maintain firewalls, antivirus, and anti-spyware software. The open-source community publicizes possible security issues with both open-source tools — allowing users to protect themselves and hackers to potentially exploit issues. In contrast, Microsoft keeps security issues closely guarded in an effort to prevent hackers from finding out about them. Generally speaking, if you follow the standard precautions, all three tools are fairly safe.

Email Integration For many people, one of the big advantages of Office is its integration with Microsoft Outlook. Outlook provides email and calendaring features, among other things. This integration allows you to send documents directly from Office tools. For instance, you can send a Word document in an email directly from the Word interface. You can also preview Office documents directly in Outlook.

OpenOffice and LibreOffice don't offer similar native email clients.