While not something that all people will want to use, LibreOffice is definitely worth a mention, because it has one of the best features of all the productivity suites available – it’s completely free.
If you need something in a pinch that will get the job done, or if you are part of an organisation that needs to carefully watch its costs, then LibreOffice may be a good choice. It is Open Source, which means the code which comprises the software is viewable by anyone, and is developed by a community of hundreds of users worldwide, which not only means that it is worked on by a huge team of people – it also means it is translated into many different languages.
LibreOffice consists of three standard main components – Writer, Calc, and Impress are its word processor, spreadsheet and presentation elements – plus some other features such as Draw (for diagrams and flowcharts,) and Base (for databases.) It also has two other modules called Math (a formula editor) and Charts (a chart creation tool). For a suite that’s entirely free, the features available in each piece of software are quite polished and it’s easy to use, especially for people who are familiar with older versions of Office. It also has the capability to connect extensions, which are specialised tools people may develop for specific purposes.
It’s compatible at a baseline level with Office; both can use Open Document Formats (ODF). Some features are not cross-compatible – Some problems can arise if you’re sharing documents between PowerPoint and Impress, and if you’re using a lot of macros in Excel, you may find it hard to accomplish the same tasks in Calc – but, on the whole, basic documents will move easily between the two, though some formatting and features may not be preserved.
Here’s what we think are its best features:
If you’re looking for a free package for a home PC, something to edit documents on for yourself, or something to download in a pinch when you don’t have access to Office, or if the cost of Office is too prohibitive, LibreOffice can fill that gap. It doesn’t offer any of the features such as integration with cloud services, web apps, or collaboration tools, and its interface may seem a little dated in comparison to Microsoft’s more carefully considered Office suite, but it does offer a free, offline, basic suite of tools that can help you get the job done.