Microsoft Office and Microsoft 365 remain the dominant productivity software suite. There are also several free alternatives that have emerged over the years. Examples include the cloud-based productivity suite from Google and the productivity apps from Apple. LibreOffice is also another popular alternative. It is a free and open-source suite developed by The Document Foundation. It is also maintained together with an active pool of volunteers.
The entire software suite is available for Windows, macOS, ChromeOS, Linux distributions such as Debian, Ubuntu, and Linux Mint, Solaris, and BSD spinoffs such as OpenBSD and FreeBSD desktop operating systems. It is also available in popular mobile operating systems or platforms which include Android, iOS, and iPadOS. This article explores, lists, and discusses the specific pros and cons or advantages and disadvantages of LibreOffice.
Pros of LibreOffice: Advantages and Notable Benefits
1. Free and Open-Source
The biggest advantage of LibreOffice is that it is a completely free productivity software package with no hidden or additional costs. This benefits both individual and organizational users. Take note that Microsoft 365 is subscription-based. The personal ed costs USD 69.99 per year and the family ed costs USD 99.99 per year. The business ed is billed on a per-user basis.
But is it really as good as Microsoft 365? It would be a far stretch to agree. However, note that it is compatible with all standard formats native to Microsoft software, and has the most important features of Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. This compatibility means that it is ideal for users who are collaborating with users of Microsoft products or switching between software.
3. Extensions and Templates
Another advantage of LibreOffice is that it has a great selection of free extensions and templates to expand the functionality of the specific software programs or apps within the suite. There are plugins to add features such as advanced grammar checker and proofreading tool, extra language packages, accessibility options, and other customization or personalization settings.
4. Productivity App Suite
Note that the suite includes six software. These are Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, Math, and Base. Write, Calc, and Impress are the alternatives to Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Draw is a vector graphics editor and Math is designed for creating and editing mathematical formulas. Base is a database management app that serves as an alternative to Microsoft Access.
5. Wide Platform Availability
This productivity software suite has versions for popular desktop operating systems such as Windows, macOS, and Linux distributions. It also has versions for ChromeOS, Solaris, and BSD. There are also versions for Android and iOS or iPadOS. The suite is based on another free and open-source suite called OpenOffice but has a more modern user interface.
Cons of LibreOffice: Disadvantages and Key Limitations
1. Outdated User Interface
One of the main disadvantages of LibreOffice, particularly when compared to Microsoft 365 and the older Microsoft Office, is that its overall user interface looks and feels outdated. It uses a more traditional design with icons and toolbars compared to the ribbon-styled interface of recent Microsoft 365 software programs. Others might find this different and unfamiliar.
2. Lacking Cloud Support
It also lacks built-in support for cloud storage unlike Microsoft 365 and Google Workspaces. A user must use indirect means to back up his or her files to a preferred cloud storage service. But there is also no native feature for cloud-based collaboration. Take note that cloud integration is a notable advantage of applications such as Google Docs and Microsoft Word.
3. Steeper Learning Curve
Those who are extensively familiar with Microsoft 365 products might find software programs or apps under this productivity less intuitive. Some features and functionalities are tucked away and require browsing and navigating through the layers of the user interface. Even apps from Google such as Google Docs and Google Sheets are more intuitive to use.
4. Key Compatibility Issues
Another disadvantage of LibreOffice is represented by its compatibility issues. Documents made using Microsoft 365 might suffer some formatting issues when opened in LibreOffice. The same is true when making complex documents in LibreOffice and opening them in Microsoft 365. The suite also supports macros but it is not perfect. These can affect collaborations.
5. Some Performance Concerns
It can suffer from some lag on resource-intensive tasks or when making or handling large files or documents. Some examples include extensive spreadsheets or complex documents with intricate formatting. This is noticeable on older or less powerful computers. It also tends to fall short in specialized tasks such as spreadsheet functions or presentation animation.
Takeaways: Advantages and Disadvantages of LibreOffice
The biggest advantage of LibreOffice is that it is a free-to-download and free-to-use suite of apps or software for productivity. It is ideal for those who do not want to spend on licensing fees and want a decent suite of software for average-level productivity tasks. However, when compared to Microsoft 365 and other alternatives such as Google Workplaces and Google Docs Editor, it can fall short in certain instances or cases because of compatibility issues, performance concerns, and limited capabilities. Those who are dependent on the extensive features and functionalities of Microsoft 365 will find LibreOffice quite unsuitable.