Microsoft Office vs LibreOffice (New deep analysis)

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Copywriters, authors, students and office workers – they all need to organize their work, Right? How do they work then? LibreOffice and Microsoft Office are competing products, and so which one to choose between them?

Microsoft Office and LibreOffice are mostly akin because they do a similar work but also the difference between them is noticeable. Moreover, LibreOffice is a free open-source software, you acquire it free of charge while Microsoft Office is commercial; hence, it requires a purchased license to be able to use it.

Which one would you choose between these two?

Microsoft Office vs LibreOffice
LibreOffice and Microsoft Office are like substitutes

If you want to type a document you are likely to use text editor, if you want to record data or want to make data entry you are likely to use spreadsheet and finally if you want to give an impression with your ideas you will make a presentation.

There are tools out there that are meant to do that, no more pens and hundreds of thousands of papers.

But still there is a question, how do you choose the right tool that does what you like? I have this same question.

There are different Office Suites available including:

  • Microsoft Office
  • LibreOffice
  • Apache OpenOffice
  • Google G suite
  • WPS Office
  • WordPerfect Office

And many more…

From the above list, let’s keep up with the first two; Microsoft Office and LibreOffice. People still wonder which one to choose between the two.

In this article we will compare and contrast the two tools and decide in the end.

What is Microsoft Office? What is LibreOffice?

Microsoft Office

Of course this is an office suite owned by Microsoft Corporation as you can hear it in its name, Microsoft Office has been initially released in 1988 at COMDEX (Las Vegas) by Bill Gates but it was stably released (Stable version) in 1990.

Did you know that, the first release of Microsoft Office was composed by 3 applications only? Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

Now Microsoft uses Office 365, a new model of acquiring the suite (initially released in 2011).

Microsoft Office suite is composed of bunch of applications: Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint, Microsoft Publisher, Microsoft Access, Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft OneNote, and many more…

It is available for Windows and Mac OS, Android and iOS, in a total of 91 languages.

For the applications of the suite, each one has its own model of saving format even though they are supportive for thousands of formats. The three mains are:

Microsoft Word: Word saves documents in .docxformat (simply, document file format). This format was introduced in 2007 at the same time of publication of Microsoft Office 2007, the structure of this new Document format was changed from plain binary to a combination of XML and binary files. The “X” in DOCX stands for XML. This format (.docx) is called “Word Document” when you are saving.

Microsoft Excel: Excel is known for spreadsheet processing; its default format is .xlsx which was either adopted in 2007 replacing .xlsformat. This format is called “Excel Worksheet” as well as “Excel Workbook” that is what you see when you are saving a document.

Microsoft PowerPoint: PowerPoint is a presentation tool, has a default format of .pptx, which was enabled in Microsoft Office 2007 it stands for “PowerPoint Presentation”.

Blank Microsoft Word Document
This is how a blank Microsoft Word Document looks

 

The applications have various extensions (file names) according to the purpose of the format, the common are Template, Micro-enabled and Micro-enabled template.

Microsoft Office default formats (extensions)

Here is a table that illustrates the formats of the applications above:

Application

Format name

Format extension

Microsoft Word

Word Document

.docx

Word macro-enabled document

.docm

Word template

.dotx

Word macro-enabled template

.dotm

Microsoft Excel

Excel Workbook

.xlsx

Excel macro-enabled workbook

.xlsm

Excel template

.xltx

Excel macro-enabled template

.xltm

Microsoft PowerPoint

PowerPoint presentation

.pptx

PowerPoint macro-enabled presentation

.pptm

PowerPoint template

.potx

PowerPoint macro-enabled template

.potm

 

The remaining are Access, Publisher and OneNote which have extensions ACCDB,.pub, .one respectively.

LibreOffice

As Microsoft office is owned by Microsoft, LibreOffice is owned by The DocumentFoundation. It is an open-source office suite that is composed of different application mainly grouped like this:

  • Writer – Word processor
  • Calc – Spreadsheet
  • Impress – Presentations
  • Draw – Vector graphics editor
  • Math – Formula editor, and
  • Base – Database

This suite is multiOS, it is available on Windows, Mac, Linux, Android and iOS.

LibreOffice is growing faster, because in 2018 was subjected to reach 200 million users from 120 million in 2016.

Blank LibreOffice Calc
LibreOffice has a default format of Open Document

LibreOffice default formats (extensions)

LibreOffice normally comes with default extensions (format) in ODF (Open Document Format) for all applications. This is how its extensions are called:

Application

Name of extensions

Extension

Writer

OpenDocument Text

.odt

Calc

OpenDocument Spreadsheet

.ods

Impress

OpenDocument Presentations

.odp

Draw

OpenDocument Drawing

.odg

Math

OpenDocument Formula

.odf

Base

OpenDocument Database

.odb

 

Nevertheless, it can read other document formats from Microsoft Office and WordPerfect like docx, xlsx, pptx. But there are other tons of formats that works with it.

Comparing Microsoft Office and LibreOffice

What we are trying to focus on here is not what is best or what is worst, but which one can you choose to meet your preferences and taste. It is normal that people are different in nature, so what they like and the preferences.

Looking at numbers it is to say that LibreOffice is a possible competitor of Microsoft Office where there is more than 200 million of users to 1.2 billion users worldwide respectively.

That’s not a small number for a 10-year-old tool like LibreOffice but also in that number Microsoft Office shows a difference with experience of 29 years in operation.

Let’s see what we can say from both of them, we will try to use the following aspects:

  • Requirements
  • Nature
  • Usability and complexity

I won’t be beyond the three things above they will help us to choose, they are easy for everyone to identify them and they are major aspects for a user to like or to not like a software.

Requirements

Requirements are what is needed for a computer to handle a software mostly are presented as “Systemrequirements” including OS, RAM capacity, ROM Capacity, Graphics hardware and sometimes sound card might be needed. These requirements vary according to an operating system (OS).

As Microsoft indicates, here are system requirements of Microsoft Office in compatible platforms:

Requirements

Windows Os

MacOS

Computer and Processor

1.6 GHz or faster, 2-core.

intel processor

Memory

4 GB of RAM (2 GB of RAM 32-bit)

4 GB of RAM

Hard Disk

4 GB of available disk space

10 GB of available disk space

Display

1280×768 screen resolution

1280×800 screen resolution

Graphics

DirectX 9+, WDDM of 2.0 or higher

no graphics requirements

Operating System

Windows 10/ Windows 8.1/ Windows Server 2019 or Windows Server 2016.

The three most recent versions

Browser

Microsoft Edge, Internet Explorer, Safari, Chrome, or Firefox

.NET version

.NET 3.5 or 4.6 and higher

 

Requirements of Microsoft Office are divided into sections according to two OS (Mac and Windows) and they uncover every single information needed to be able to run the suite with the best experience.

Now we have seen what is needed to run Microsoft Office, let’s check out what LibreOffice has got for us in requirements. This is what it recommends to be able to give you an invaluable experience:

Microsoft Windows

To install LibreOffice on Windows Os computer:

  • Must have; Microsoft Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows Server 2012, or Windows 10.
  • Must be a Pentium-compatible PC – Pentium III, Athlon or more-recent system recommended.
  • Must have at least 256 MB RAM but they recommend 512 MB RAM.
  • Must have 1.5 GB and more available hard disk space
  • 1024×768 resolution graphic, with at least 256 colors. But they recommend a higher resolution.

Apple macOS (Mac OS X)

To install LibreOffice on MacOs computer:

  • To run LibreOffice 6.3 and 6.4, macOS 10.10 (Yosemite) or higher is required
  • Must have an Intel processor
  • Must possess 512 MB of RAM
  • Must have Up to 800 MB available (hard disk space)
  • Must be 1024×768 resolution graphic device with 256 colors, but they recommend higher resolution if possible.

On GNU/Linux

To install LibreOffice in Linux computer:

  • Must have Linux kernel version 3.10 or higher.
  • Must have glibc2 version 2.17 or higher.
  • Must be a Pentium-compatible PC (Pentium III, Athlon or more-recent system recommended).
  • Must have a 256Mb RAM (512 MB RAM recommended).
  • Must be Up to 1.55 GB available hard disk space.
  • Must have an X Server with 1024×768 resolution (higher resolution recommended), with at least 256 colors.
  • Must also have Gnome 3.18 or higher, with the at-spi2 1.32 package.

Above is are the prerequisites of getting LibreOffice to work, it is available for three OS (Windows, MacOS and Linux). And some PCs might need to have Java while installing this software because Base requires that.

Addition to that, they recommend you to back up your system and data before you uninstall or install software to avoid data loss (in case). Especially for windows, administrator rights are needed for the installation process.

Verdict on requirements.

We both see what are the prerequisites to the PC for both software, what you can see is that they are not to heavy for a normally PC. I would simply say that they are compatible with every computer, of course they are text tools they don’t require to much.

What about a comparison between the two? Looking at requirements above, LibreOffice is likely to be very smooth on any computer, even a computer 1 GB of RAM (if they still exist) can run it without any complication (Where Microsoft Office requires 2 GB and 4 GB for 32-bit and 64-bit respectively).

Another thing is that, Microsoft Office recent versions are unable to run in older versions of Windows and Mac while LibreOffice has tried to look back on the past generations.

Microsoft Office supports latest versions of MacOS (Sierra, High Sierra and Mojave) on Windows (Windows 8.1 and Windows 10) while LibreOffice’s recent version works on MacOS from Yosemite (released 2014 to 2017) up to the latest (Mojave).

Windows from Windows 7 (released from 2007 to 2015 based on mainstream support) up to the latest (Windows 10).

On this battle, LibreOffice is better than Microsoft Office.

Nature

What is user interface? User Interface is like a skin of a software, when you open a program that look you see is the interface (I’m not being technical).

We are going to see the nature and how interactive they are before a user.

  1. What are the differences?
  2. What are the similarities?

What are the similarities

Microsoft office and LibreOffice have similarities and it’s obvious, I hope you realized that in the first place because it is not possible to make an addition of a goat and ship or say “Los Angeles Lakers is better than Mercedes Benz team” that would be totally insane.

The similarities are the following:

  1. They have identical applications: Both tools have applications that seem to have the same role; for example, Writer has the same role as Word (text editing), Calc has the same role as Excel (Spreadsheet) and other tools do similar things. A proof of substitution of one another.
  2. Identical elements: Microsoft Office share the same elements names, like properties names, functions names and so on. The terms of these two tools can be familiar, not only the names look familiar but also the icons are also easy to identify them. So this would be easy to shift from one to another.

What are the differences

Apart from serving the same purpose, they don’t serve it in the same way. Microsoft Office and LibreOffice have differences.

The differences are:

  1. Names: Yes, the names are different and you can see that but, did you notice that LibreOffice can be easy for a French to pronounce than an English or American and vice versa?
  2. Navigation: LibreOffice has a menu that looks like the one of old-fashioned Microsoft Office where it has menus and sub-menus. Unlike Microsoft Office has a toolbar divided into tabs and ribbons. Here I can’t say which one is good than another because it depends on the taste.
  3. Licenses: Here there is total difference because Microsoft Office is commercial and a subscription-based software which means that to use it you have to purchase its license. Whereas LibreOffice you own it for free, you pay null to get all its features (it’s a free beer), it was created by a community of volunteers. That can make people become attracted to the use LibreOffice because can be owned for free.
  4. Formats: The thing is that every one of these has some additional choice for formats (or extensions) like LibreOffice has a built-in ePUB export format and MS Office doesn’t. This is a good shot for LibreOffice. As well MS Office has Macro-enabled.
  5. Accessibility: As we have seen LibreOffice covers a wide range of Operating Systems than Microsoft because it works on three main OS (Windows, Mac and Linux) and two main OS (Windows and Mac) respectively. This also gives some points LibreOffice!
  6. Community: Comparing the two, LibreOffice is far to catch Microsoft Office. From the above number of users Microsoft Office is five times greater than LibreOffice.

Usability and Complexity

I cannot say that this is complex or what. Each one has a good quality that is worth an appreciation, but regarding on how everyone likes a property or something one has.

Menu of MS Office
Menu of MS Office looks modern and grouped according to relevance

Some researches say different things about these two tools but what they all point on finally is the navigation because the way they are navigated is totally different.

To be honest, both of them are not that hard but at one point, LibreOffice is easily accessible because you can access any application inside the software. As well Microsoft Office has a menu that is perfectly arranged.

Menu of LibreOffice
Menu of LibreOffice looks classical

Other related posts:

Closing Note

We have seen more about the tools the specifications, requirements, nature and structure. We have seen that the main difference between LibreOffice and Microsoft Office is the licenses where LibreOffice is open-source and Microsoft Office is commercial.

Both tools have requirements to be installed or work in a PC, here it returned a favor to LibreOffice which requires less capacity for a computer to run it.

Looking on all we have said above, this what we can conclude:

  1. As in requirements, LibreOffice is easy to run even on a super slow computer can run whereas Microsoft Office requires a bit of energy to the computer.
  2. LibreOffice is for anyone, on any budget (Open-source) while Microsoft Office is not.
  3. LibreOffice is OS diversified, but Microsoft Office is not. On the other hand, Microsoft Office is popular than LibreOffice

If you have any additional info on Microsoft Office versus LibreOffice feel free to share it with us by leaving a comment below.

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5 Responses

  1. This is truly enlightening. I must confess that I'm just getting to know Libre from you. Does Libre have mobile version? I ask because I do almost all my writing on my phone.

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