Brief introduction of LibreOffice and OpenOffice
When looking for a free alternative to Microsoft Office, we often stumble into LibreOffice or OpenOffice. There is no better alternative available than the two software.
Does this lead to confusion about which one to choose? We often look for a comparison between LibreOffice vs OpenOffice however, the help available is either too complex to understand or is not enough.
This article will help you decide which one is the right fit. I have tried to list down the differences between LibreOffice and OpenOffice.
History – LibreOffice vs OpenOffice
StarOffice is the parent to OpenOffice and grandparent to LibreOffice in the true sense.
Originally, Sun Microsystem’s StarOffice supported the Openoffice.org XML file format and Open Document Format (ODF). Its source code was released in 2000 creating a free open-source office suite Openoffice.org. StarOffice and OpenOffice.org continued in parallel until Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems in 2010. The proprietary Office Suites were renamed Oracle Open Office. Shortly in 2011, Oracle stopped the development of OpenOffice.org making this a community-based project.
LibreOffice formed after most of the developers and contributors moved as they were not happy with Sun and later with Oracle. The program OpenOffice.org was seeded into Apache incubator by Oracle which later created Apache OpenOffice.
This created the two branches LibreOffice and OpenOffice.
Both OpenOffice and LibreOffice are open-source office suites. They share the same ancestor which is StarOffice. Here look at some of the similarities.
- Both are free.
- Supported by Windows, Mac, Linux, Unix, Solaris, BSD
- They support Microsoft Office file format (.doc, .docx, .xls, .xlsx)
- Support of Open Document Format (ODF)
- The look and feel of both LibreOffice and OpenOffice is the same.
- They share basic Office applications like Word processor, Spreadsheet, Presentation.
- The Draw program is equivalent to MS Visio. This is something which both score over Microsoft Office which includes Visio as an additional paid software.
- Both are portable into a flash drive.
LibreOffice vs OpenOffice: 8 Key Differences
For an average user, there aren’t any major differences. However, some features can be a show stopper for advanced users or those who want to get more out of this program.
1. MS Office support
LibreOffice supports Office Open XML (OOXML) export, which means you can save any file in Microsoft format (.docx, .xlsx, .pptx). With OpenOffice, it is import only.
2. PDF Support
PDF support is available with LibreOffice, with OpenOffice it is also available with a free plugin. You need to download a plugin in OpenOffice.
LibreOffice and OpenOffice use different licenses, it generally helps LibreOffice as it can get the code from OpenOffice but OpenOffice can not do so.
4. Updates and releases
LibreOffice is more actively developed than OpenOffice. The last major release of LibreOffice was version 7.2 in August 2021. OpenOffice on the other hand got the last major release in April 2014. Also, the minor releases were way more for LibreOffice, it got 93 updates whereas OpenOffice got only 10.
5. Language Support
OpenOffice allows you to install additional language plugins therefore if you work with multiple languages this is a helpful feature. With LibreOffice, you need to stick with one language you choose initially.
6. Font embedding
LibreOffice lets you embed fonts in your documents, meaning the fonts will look the same no matter which system or program you are using to open the document. OpenOffice does not have this feature.
7. Word count feature
You can see the word count on the footer page of LibreOffice Writer. This is a helpful feature for me. OpenOffice does not show word count on the page, you will have to go to the Tools menu.
8. Cloud/Online availability
LibreOffice Online is available which is cloud-based and can be used online.
Both LibreOffice and OpenOffice are open-source software and are free to use on any OS. It is common to get confused between LibreOffice vs OpenOffice. If you are an average user just looking for a basic Word processor and Spreadsheet program then you can download any of them. Both will work just fine. The differences are minor only if you look through them minutely.
LibreOffice wins over OpenOffice in most of the features. Font embedding, ability to save as Microsoft document (.docx, .xlsx) are extra with LibreOffice. Also, it gets more frequent updates and development is active. On the other hand, Language support is better in OpenOffice.
If you work with Microsoft Office a lot then LibreOffice is a good choice given its compatibility. Based on your requirements you can take your pick. Do let me know if you found this helpful by sharing your thoughts in the comments section.