Productivity Windows

Is the New LibreOffice a Better Microsoft Office Alternative?

Gavin Phillips 17-02-2015

Updated by Tina Sieber on 28 February, 2017.


Long-time Microsoft Office challenger LibreOffice regularly receives major updates. This article discusses the makeover LibreOffice received in a previous iteration.

Meanwhile, we’ve covered LibreOffice version 5.1 Is LibreOffice Worthy of the Office Crown? LibreOffice is the king of free office suites. It's unlikely to replace Microsoft Office in a business environment, but it's an excellent alternative for casual users. Here's what's new in LibreOffice 5.1. Read More , explained how to install version 5.3 on Ubuntu How to Install LibreOffice 5.3 on Ubuntu in Seconds LibreOffice just released version 5.3, an exciting update with all sorts of new features and improvements. Here's how to install it on Ubuntu now with one command. Read More , and we showed you how to boost your productivity with LibreOffice Writer 9 Effective LibreOffice Writer Tips to Boost Your Productivity The one free Microsoft Office alternative that shines above the rest is LibreOffice. We'll help you get (more) familiar and productive with this versatile office suite. Read More .

LibreOffice is a fork of OpenOffice Is OpenOffice Shutting Down? 4 Great Free Office Suite Alternatives OpenOffice is no longer a free Microsoft Office alternative you can count on. We have compiled the four best options for Windows, Linux, and Mac. Read More and a serious contender to the Office crown of productivity suite king, but has been held back over the years. Niggling bugs, and a somewhat clunky user interface (UI) have been long time complaints, as have import and export formatting issues.

Has LibreOffice finally found the winning formula? And will it be enough to convert this life-long Office user Save on Microsoft Office! Get Cheap or Free Office Products Reluctant to spend a few hundred bucks on a glorified word processor? You can get Microsoft Office for cheap and alternatives for free. You've got many options and we offer a summary. Read More ?

What’s New?

Let’s start with a quick rundown of LibreOffice 4.4 new features:


Let’s Take a Closer Look…

On first impressions, LibreOffice really has made ground on Microsoft Office. The UI is nice. It loads notably quicker than previous version, 4.3, which I was playing with last week for an upcoming Excel alternatives article. Developers, The Document Foundation, believe LibreOffice 4.4 is “is the most beautiful ever” having received “a lot of UX and design love.”

LibreOffice Calc

The properties, styles and tabs sidebar has received a little makeover, too. I’ve always liked having this selection of formatting tools to the right of my work, and LibreOffice offers this in their native setup, across Writer, Calc, Impress and Base. +1 for LibreOffice. Maybe another +.5 for the colour on my screen.

LibreOffice Sidebar


I’m not convinced it’s the most beautiful application ever, but it’s looking good.

Tracking Changes and Formatting Updates

Tracking your editorial changes How to Collaborate With Track Changes in Microsoft Word Read More and commenting now work properly, as each time you accept or reject the editorial note it moves directly the next in queue. Seeing the small bugs like this finally being erased from LibreOffice illustrate the desire to gain parity with Office. I can see this small update winning LibreOffice users. It has been a genuine frustration receiving documents from colleagues using .ODF files, only for Office, or any other software suite to break everything.


Importing into and out of LibreOffice has become relatively seamless. Compatibility with Office is a must, and the developers have recognised this. Documents saved with comments, editing and formatting in LibreOffice export to Office, and import just as well.


LibreOffice’s inclusion of open-source fonts Carlito and Caladea certainly aid the process, making the import of Microsoft Office Open XML (OOXML) that bit faster, with more, if not all of your formatting escaping modification. Most of the niggling .docx import import issues have also dissipated with this 4.4 update.

Start Centre and Templates

The Start Centre offers more drop-downs and functionality than previous iterations. Having all recently associated documents centred in the Start Centre is a nice touch. However, the lack of native templates Useful Free Open Office Templates To Make You More Productive Read More is slightly disappointing, and for those users potentially making the switch from Office, this could be a turn-off.

Libre Office Templates

I know that there are a massive amount of templates available for download, but Office really does excel Use Microsoft Office Templates to Captivate Your Audience & Efficiently Deliver Information A template is like a virtual billboard, visually reinforcing text or data. Here we offer a basic overview of Microsoft Office templates and your options. Read More with the convenience there: tap what you’re after into the search box, and you usually find a functional, well-designed template for instant download. Perhaps later versions will see this feature further implemented.


OpenGL Presentations

3D Accelerated presentations come to Windows, having already featured on OSX and Linux for some-time. Let’s face it. Slideshow transitions stopped being an amazingly fun tool when most of us were teenagers, but the move to include a feature that has been commonplace in OSX and Linux will undoubtedly please those PowerPoint and LibreOffice Impress users.

Coverity Scan Analysis

As we can see in the image, the Coverity Scan Analysis metrics returned some 12, 354 defects in the current code. Following the scan, nearly 12,000 of these defects have been fixed, delivering you a more compact, safer, reliable Office package. If the code isn’t working, your application wont work. It stands to reason. LibreOffice are making great progress by eliminating the small issues, before they become big problems.

LibreOffice Analysis

LibreOffice vs. Microsoft Office

There are countless Office alternative articles The 7 Best Free Microsoft Office Alternatives Microsoft Office is the king of office suites, but that doesn't mean it's the right one for you. Here are some other office suites you might like better! Read More extolling the virtues of LibreOffice over Microsoft Office The 7 Best Free Microsoft Office Alternatives Microsoft Office is the king of office suites, but that doesn't mean it's the right one for you. Here are some other office suites you might like better! Read More , but this article isn’t one of them.

Yes, The Document Foundation has upped its game with LibreOffice 4.4, and yes, it is quite pretty all round. Even better yet, its completely free, and if that is something you need from your software, then I would absolutely advise you to download and use it.


However, it still cannot compete with Microsoft Office across the board. I may be biased. I might. But Word does almost everything right for me. The top-menu, and right-hand properties and formatting tab is a bonus, but I can rearrange Word to this end. Excel still packs a powerful punch Excel Vs. Access - Can a Spreadsheet Replace a Database? Which tool should you use to manage data? Access and Excel both feature data filtering, collation and querying. We'll show you which one is best suited for your needs. Read More  that most other spreadsheet applications struggle to get close too, but Calc is a strong second, and I can see why so many Linux distros use LibreOffice as their default Office package.

It is better. It’s not the winner.

Has the new beautiful LibreOffice inspired you to jump ships? What would make you leave Microsoft Office for an alternative? Let us know in the comments below!

Related topics: LibreOffice, Microsoft Office 2013, Microsoft Office Alternative.

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    September 9, 2016 at 5:31 pm

    There are many contenders to MS Office and for the rudimentary user, they may not even notice a difference, however, when it comes to high end performance and functionality, MS Office unfortunately has no contenders. It is simply the best there is.

    • FreeSoftwareFanatic
      September 12, 2016 at 5:12 pm

      What about Gnumeric? I've heard it is very fast, so it would be a worthy contender to MS Excel.

  2. Sugi
    July 18, 2016 at 6:25 am

    It's a great alternative. But in the end, that's all it is- an alternative. Sorry, but it isn't powerful enough to replace Office. I'd rather pay for something I depend on and use daily than use some free, underpowered alternative.

  3. Alexander
    June 1, 2016 at 7:02 pm

    As long as you don't need to embed images, LibreOffice is fine. But it is notorious for loosing images in documents. This can be a very embarassing problem in the presentation program. Otherwise it is a great office suite.

  4. Peter
    June 1, 2016 at 6:04 pm

    I've been using OpenOffice and lately LibreOffice for about ten years now. As a CEO of a small company I find it most difficult at our employees to say goodbye to some irrelevant features of MS Office. However at newcomers, who have never used MS Office, experiment prooves that they refuse to switch to MS Office from LibreOffice. They find MS Office hard to navigate. When you need support, explanations at MS are plain and contain a lot of unnecessary stuff. If you have a courage to use free suites, there is absolutely no reason to finance Mr. Gates. You still can switch to MS Office if you need some special feature only included within there.

  5. David
    May 26, 2016 at 4:55 pm

    I have used microsoft office in the past but the changes and updates makes buying the last version a must, so i kicked that ms office game a long time ago. I even paid for a copy of a ms office (cost me 10 dollars) and I gave it to my mother who still uses ms. Am happy nowadays with ubuntu and the new open office.

  6. W Linux!
    April 1, 2016 at 7:44 am

    Hello, try yourself to open a .csv file, formatted with ";" as separator and some content with nueric values starting with 0 (for example: 0123 or 039123456789).
    Calc will prompt how to open the csv, suggesting parameters for cells, separations and cells format.
    Excel doesn't to id, opening the file and showing the data WRONG. NO WAY TO OPEN THE CSV CORRECTLY!
    So, Excel sucks!

  7. Ag
    March 29, 2016 at 12:41 pm

    The only reason I use Office at all is that my school gives us a subscription for it. But if I can avoid putting any of my pennies into Bill Gates' pockets, then I will use this. Writer is actually better than Word in almost all use cases. Calc isn't fully compatible with word, but that is of limited concern for me since I hardly use it. Impress is less full-featured than powerpoint but you're getting shat uou pay for at that point. Writer, the one I use most is for me an easier program to use than word, so if I can, i'll stick with it.

  8. P Thomas
    February 19, 2016 at 11:34 am

    The first thing I did when I opened Libre Write for the first time was go to View and look for Outline. Sadly, it wasn't there. I know, there is Navigator, but it doesn't do what Outline does in Word.
    When I start a long document in Word, I start in Outline mode and frequently move back and forth between Outline and other views. It's a must have for me and I'll probably stick with Word until this becomes available.
    I'm surprised that no one else in this topic hasn't mentioned this.

    • RalphB
      July 5, 2017 at 10:00 pm

      Over a year since P Thomas made this point and I found this page because I've been looking for a possible LibreOffice extension that will enable me to continue using my thousands of pages of MS Word outline-view-formatted documents with their in-folding subsections and easily moved parts. I use massive numbers of hyperlinks among these documents and Word 2002 still does everything I need except for one major feature that has become essential: the ability to hyperlink between my points in my Word documents and PDF pages. Recent versions of Word do this but I dislike the ribbon interface, even if price were no object. I've been looking at the LibreOffice Writer documentation and it seems that it can do the hyperlinking but that doesn't help me if it can't open Word documents with their intended Outline View functionality. It wouldn't need to work exactly as Word does as long as it preserved the important functions and could be imported into the hoped-for Writer "Folding-Outline Format" without major editing.

      • Gavin Phillips
        July 9, 2017 at 2:05 pm

        Yes, this is a killer-feature for many people.

  9. Richard H
    February 8, 2016 at 4:29 am

    Libre Office version 5 is out now, and it's still hopelessly buggy. When reading documents (not editing them) if I use the "copy" command it will frequently cut the text instead and then save the changes without asking me.
    Also I have some larger documents (over 1600 pages) of text only. It takes 10-15 minutes to open them, and each time I do Libre Office somehow "loses" a few pages. Now it's reporting 1520 instead of 1603 pages for the same unedited document!
    I enjoy using Libre Office for my own self, personal documents and correspondence, journaling etc but if it's a document I must share electronically with the world (such as a resume or work related documentation) I am forced to use Microsoft Office. Libre Office just can't handle any MSOffice formatting whatsoever.

  10. Ramraj
    February 3, 2016 at 5:13 pm

    I use libre office for my daily work . It is more than enough and I am very happy with that . I never needed MS Office documents compatibility . And if I ever need that I would go for Office Online which will be a wiser decision .

  11. Ian
    November 25, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    Would like to go to Libre or another alternative to MS but I worry about compatibility with documents/powerpoint/excel files from my office (Workplace).

    Also when other organisations send me files. Its important that everything displays as it was designed to.

    A few years ago was still running office97 while everyone else had moved to 2003. I was forever having to convert files that people sent to me. Especially if someone needed to use my laptop to give a presentation with a powerpoint slideshow they designed on their own machines.

  12. Kokain
    May 8, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    I don't use Office programs anymore. If I have to write anything important and present it, is the program. Weird I know but it gives you that WhatYouSeeIsWhatYouGet control. Perfect for creating fake docs

    • Sugi
      July 18, 2016 at 6:28 am

      Giving up MS Office for That's a first.
      Actually, it seems like a neat idea... I've got to try it sometime.

  13. BenG
    May 4, 2015 at 6:35 pm

    I have been a Mac user since 1980. AND a PC/parallels user since 1988 for unique SW not on the Mac. I have been through the publically announced degradation of MSO on the Mac. I tried for years to write 35 page grant proposals with graphs and pictures, and tables in Word. It was horrible. After two pages of text and graph, the thing would always blow us and scatter everything all over the page.

    As soon as Apple Pages came out, I started using it. Very stable, no explosions when mixing text, graphs, objects, etc. I don’t do a lot of collaboration, so the collaboration features don’t interest me.

    When MS Excel dumped the fomular bar, and changed formatting every two years, I switched to LO Calc. People say it is not as powerful. For me it is much better than MS Excel. I do a lot of heavy calcultions, lookup tables, 5th order polynomial equations in lieu of a look up table, etc. The formular bar helps me get through the hairy formulas. I do technical calcs, financial ledgers, check writing, etc., all in Calc. I print reports that I send to clients directly from Calc.

    I have no problem with the “look” of the Calc interface. I want functionality, not beauty. Some of recent icon changes were for the worse, making them less recognizble, and there is no functionality when the menu bar is truncated horizontally, but I can live with this until they fix it.

    I suffered throught all the bugs in the 3…. series, and some in the 4…. series, but Calc has calmed down in recent versions, and the only compliants I have now are preference items.

  14. Rob
    May 3, 2015 at 12:19 am

    Honestly of course MS suite is more powerful but that is reflected in the price. I have tried Libre,Apache,Calligra,WPS and google docs and abi word.It comes down to what you need if you work on formula heavy spreadsheets at work they are unlikely to work perfectly with the free office suites not without some format loss. If on the other hand you just want an office suite you can track your personal finances, write a cv then really any of them will do providing you can save it in .doc format as 100 percent of all companies expect cv's in that format as do countless recruitment websites.
    I have found that WPS office does handle formatting the best out of the free office suites at least when it comes to word however, MS now offers word online for free as long as you have an outlook account which can of course be accessed on Linux as all you require is a web browser. Currently I use do not have a suite installed other than google docs in offline mode as have found the function reduced MS offerings via outlook do everything I need.

  15. pylan
    April 26, 2015 at 5:08 pm

    I am personally frustrated with open/libre office. I used linux for 9 years and I am an open source lover.

    Each time in those 9 years, I gave a chance to LibreOffice when a new version was out. Each time, a tons of post on the Internet tells that this version was the best ever, ultra compatible with MSOffice without any compatibility issue.

    The thing is that I use simultaneously 3 OS at time for my job (Mint, Windows and OSX). I use MSOffice on OSX and Windows and LibreOffice on Mint/Ubuntu. There are compatibility issues. Corrupted xlsx or badly formatted docx. The usability is really poor on LO vs MSO. Even WPS does a better job from the usability point of view. I dream to put MSO to the trash but there is no good alternative. WPS has it's own compatibility issue but his usability is far ahead of LO.

    The documentation is also not very good. The menu layout is really poor from a usability point of view. For example, in calc, I always need to fight against autocompletion. I want to insert the number "2" then press "enter" but LO automagically transform that entry to 2015-04-26. What? Don't panic. I will disable autocompletion. Search the internet, find a lot of documentation. Menu / outils / autocorrection / insertion automatique with a screenshot: ( But when I do it on my side, here is what I see . Where is the "Insertion automatique" tabs!!! Grrrr. Ok my LO is version I will add a PPA to update it to 4.4. After the update, the tab is still not there.

    Autoinsert is not the only issue. Date, auto url detection, formula incompatibility, etc and this is only for Calc. Each time I reinstall my linux, I need to customize LO each time. PHDs, researchers and others geeks are a minority. I understand that LO has a lot of geeky features. But the everyday Joe will never use them. It needs to be more user friendly and to behave well from the start. LO bad behavior for simple task (like editing a cell) needs to be eradicated.

    I don't want to use MSOffice. Please deliver me a real LO. LO users: stop trying to convince everyone the LO is better the MSO. It is not. Doing so will taint the confidence in LO. Maybe it is already too late :(

    • Rob
      May 3, 2015 at 12:25 am

      I agree with pretty much everything you covered as much as I support open source and open source development the fact is the business world runs MSO.Lo is fine for the home user but as I have said and you have said if you work with MSO professionally you need that same software at home because you need to guarantee that if you mail something across it will be readable and display correctly at the other end.

      • Peter
        June 1, 2016 at 6:11 pm

        What you wrote here is exactly what Mr. Gates want people to believe. He is putting a lot of effort in this.

        • Sugi
          July 18, 2016 at 6:32 am

          "What you wrote here is exactly what Mr. Gates want people to believe. He is putting a lot of effort in this."
          So, any criticism of a product is automatically considered to be some sort of propaganda "Mr. Gates want people to believe." That's the surest marking I've ever seen on a fanatic.

  16. Paul
    April 12, 2015 at 4:55 pm

    LibreOffice has 1000's of features ÷ 0 cost = ? (Infinite) Value

    So for me LibreOffice wins hands down.

  17. Erumir
    March 19, 2015 at 1:09 am

    For the past couple of years, I've used OpenOffice and then LibreOffice. When my school switched to Office360 for e-mail, I switched back to Microsoft Office. Since then, I've spent more time trying to navigate around and fix all the inane quirks than I have doing any actual work. Finally, after the latest incident tonight, I have had enough. I am back to LibreOffice and getting actual work done.

  18. S. L. Turner
    March 2, 2015 at 7:48 pm

    I am jumping ship! That is why I am reading your article...research. I am fed up with the greed of MS, bad enough to have to pay so much for the program initially, but now you have to "rent" the frickin program!! Enough is enough...ready to go back to pen & paper before long. Tired of being a victim in the program "king-of-the-money-mountain",mogul wars...

    • Tina
      March 8, 2015 at 9:01 pm

      Hope we could help you make a decision. Also give WPS Office a try.

  19. Robert
    February 20, 2015 at 8:27 pm

    I'm a scientist who often writes papers with mathematics and diagrams, I happily use MSWord for short reports with few equations (using MathType-Lite for the equations — the built in one is awful). If the document has some length, citations and heavy maths I use LaTeX (try as a starter). I always go to LibreOffice Draw to prepare drawings; some functionality is limited, but you can actually control what's going on — MS-office drawing is uncontrollable mayhem to me. Often my drawings will ultimately end up back in MS (Word or Powerpoint). LibreDraw can export to encapsulated postscript which means a good quality diagram can be included in anything, especially LaTeX. I find the equation editor impossible to get good results — that's where I would like to see improvement then I change from using MS-Word for the simpler documents.
    Same sort of story for Excel/Calc, they're only good for simple stuff with a few numbers.

    • Tina
      March 8, 2015 at 9:00 pm

      Great insights and thank you for the recommendation, Robert.

  20. Scott
    February 18, 2015 at 11:59 am

    I've always preferred MS Office. My only pet peeve is that whenever I paste a document (like a long letter that I compose in Word) into, say, my webmail (I don't always use Outlook for email), the formatting gets all screwed up, e.g. line breaks gone or doubled. Other than that, MS suits me fine. Alternatives seem like just that: alternative. MS wannabees, however good they may be.

    • Gavin
      February 19, 2015 at 10:36 pm

      You sound like me, Scott. But they are catching up - some are, at least.

      • Sugi
        July 18, 2016 at 6:34 am

        Good! If Microsoft wants to remain relevant, they'll be forced to keep improving MS Office as well. Even though I'd never touch those alternative softwares, competition is always invaluable in improving technology.

  21. Shubham
    February 18, 2015 at 7:59 am

    I have LibreOffice installed on my laptop. It works just fine for me. If I encounter any file which is dependent on MS Office features I will just use Office Online. I am not a fan of all those updates which come with MS Office. So much of data is wasted.

    • Gavin
      February 19, 2015 at 10:35 pm

      Sounds like a good work around. Best of both worlds, perhaps?

  22. michel
    February 17, 2015 at 11:17 pm

    I've been keeping my eye on LibreOffice (and OpenOffice before that), but sadly it still can't get Word compatibility right. Opening .doc or .docx files shows problems immediately, with simple things like tab stops and paragraph spacing. For those of us who work professionally where MS is the universal tool, this means we must keep using MS. For other uses, it seems fine and does look better this time around. But it isn't any faster for me.

  23. Hildegerd
    February 17, 2015 at 11:00 pm

    I don't use any of them, I must have distraction free editor. Always.

    • Gavin
      February 19, 2015 at 10:34 pm

      Not even using Word or Writer in full-screen mode? What do you use instead, Hildegerd?

  24. Arbil
    February 17, 2015 at 10:45 pm

    For a comprehensive feature-by-feature comparison see:

    LibreOffice leads in lots of features, MS Office leads in other features....

  25. Mike
    February 17, 2015 at 10:33 pm

    I've never personally enjoyed using MS Office, especially after the ribbon was introduced, and I have always used the "alternatives". LibreOffice is currently my go-to, and I highly recommend it to anyone, especially those who can't give a good reason why they HAVE to use MS Office.

    • Gavin
      February 19, 2015 at 10:33 pm

      When did you make the switch, Mike? Also, what other MS alternatives have you been through to arrive at LibreOffice as your go to?

    • m-p{3}
      February 20, 2015 at 4:06 pm

      I didn't like the ribbon menu at first, but once you get used to it, it kinda make sense.

      I'd like to see a classic and revamped menu for Libre Office.

  26. Amir
    February 17, 2015 at 8:43 pm

    I've tried both and I've tried them for a very long time. While Writer comes pretty close to MS Word but Calc can not be compared to Excel as Excel is way more powerful. But as long as you are looking for free software. LibreOffice is a gift from the heavens.

    • likefunbutnot
      February 17, 2015 at 10:24 pm

      @Amir, It's actually been proven that some of Excel's more complex math functions generate incorrect answers. In that respect, you're better off with someone else's spreadsheet if that's a thing you need.

  27. Andy
    February 17, 2015 at 8:36 pm

    you should try/review Kingsoft Office.

    highly recommended

    • ReadandShare
      February 18, 2015 at 6:01 am

      Now rechristened as WPS Office. For those who don't use Access -- but just spreadsheet, word or powerpoint -- I too highly recommend this over Libre (I've used both). WPS is far smaller, nimbler and faster than Libre (although Libre does include an Access alternative). Also, WPS provides an option for traditional button toolbars -- or ribbons for those who prefer the latter.

    • Person
      February 18, 2015 at 8:50 pm

      I really don't understand why people recommend WPS office. It is proprietary, doesn't run well on Linux and does not support ODF file formats. All parts of the suite mimic MS Office and are still less powerful. WPS started to also include a rent-per-month model.
      There is neither innovation, nor freedom, nor superiority in terms of features.

    • Gavin
      February 19, 2015 at 10:32 pm

      I agree with Person. It really doesn't tick any boxes for me. What makes it so good for you, Andy?

    • Tina Sieber
      February 20, 2015 at 6:51 pm

      I worked with both Libre and OpenOffice before I switched to WPS. for a while.

      What made me stick to WPS was that it didn't mess up tracking changes and comments when working with colleagues who used different versions of MS Office, including Office for Mac.

      I might give LibreOffice another try again, although I'm back to MS Office.

  28. Malcul
    February 17, 2015 at 7:49 pm

    Have always used it from birth out of Open Office. I can't compare as I've never used MS Office. I try to avoid MS as much as possible. Unreasonably prejudiced.

    • Gavin
      February 19, 2015 at 4:54 pm

      Wow, that's impressive. Never, ever, ever, never ever really?

    • Rama
      February 21, 2015 at 4:47 pm

      Same here. Really!