Libre vs MS Office

I’m a bit addicted to that Contrary MPU opinions. Some interesting stuff there.

One of the last comments was by @TudorEynon talking about Libre instead of MS Office. With my new laptop, I was seriously considering of not installing Office. My needs are rare for Office files so I was just going to use Pages/Numbers.

But given the thoughts about Numbers being less than stellar, I’m considering Libre. Although I have heard of it, I never had a need to look into it but I will now.

Who uses Libre and any downsides? (I’m taking the main upside is not paying for Office.)

p.s. When I do a search in this forum for libre, it comes back with library stuff.


LibreOffice (LO) has been around for a number of years. It is well-developed open source software and is compatible with MSOffice formats. You can download it here: I use Numbers and Pages primarily, but there are some tasks I do with LibreOffice. Try it – I think you will decide you don’t need to spend the money for MSOffice.

LibreOffice works on Mac, Windows, Linux.

You can open MSOffice documents and spreadsheets in LO. If you want to save them in the MSOffice formats rather than to Open formats, just export to the desired format. If you always want to do this it is easy to change the default by going to the LibreOffice Preferences > Load/Save > General tab.

Then make these changes:

  • Change Document type: Text Document to Always save as: Word 2007-365 (*.docx).
  • Change Document type: Spreadsheet to Always save as: Excel 2007-365 (*.xlsx).
  • Change Document type: Presentation to Always save as: PowerPoint 2007-365 (*.pptx).
  • Click OK.

Thanks for the reply. I know this is a silly question but why would a lot of people buy MS Office? I would guess that a lot of home users aren’t needing complex stuff in Office. (This is not to assume that Libre can’t do complex stuff.)

Given that it’s free vs an Office 365 subscription now, it seems like a no-brainer to at least try it before buying a subscription to Office.

I could obviously just try Pages/Numbers and see if that fails me before even trying Libre.

I’ve been using Libre Office for nearly 20 years. Absolutely no problems with it. I do stick to the production version not the fresh latest development verision but otherwise it works flawlessly.

My only gotcha is I have to remember to set the start date correctly in spreadsheets if I plan to send them off to other devices. Libre Office allows start dates of 01/01/1900, 01/01/1904 and 12/30/1899. If you do any date stuff it pays to know who uses what or the dates get all messed up and correcting them is a royal PITA.

My only reason is that I have one package that uses embedded MS Word stuff to fill in .DOT formatted documents that will not work in LibreOffice and the vendor refuses to consider making any changes to support LO. So I do actually have a 365 subscription, at least until I can replace that software package. My target date for replacement is 4 July 2020.


Of the approximately 200 users I used to support, around 16 used Microsoft Office and the rest used Libra Office/Open Office. The MSO users were heavy Excel users, mainly in Accounting. The others had lesser needs. We set up our LO users as @davistech describes and they had no problem linking & sharing files with our MSO users.

And when the latest version of MSO couldn’t open much older versions of Microsoft Excel & Word, LO/OO could.


Every corporation uses MS Office. I do not want to risk any compatibility issues. I was using Office Business for a while myself and it worked nicely.

Outlook is a great mail app for Mac and MS Office for iOS is also not bad. And you get it all in one plus some extra and One Drive.


Thank you, everyone.

I just tried to do something super basic in Numbers. I hated it. The interface got in the way just trying to do a calculation. Things were not intuitive.

I just downloaded Libre and replicated and it felt like I was working in Excel.


In my experience Libre is a Word clone.

If I submit to a journal or institution or company that uses Office I am inclined to follow their specifications. That is often Word and Office I might put it. That is because I find it best to stick to people’s rules, not second guess them.

I haven’t needed Office on my own machine though for years now. There are issues that a publisher for example, might know about, that I might well not and I avoid second guessing them on technical issues. I will say that some requirements, on bilbiographical requirements for example, of which every journal now has a fussy variation, are absurd and mitigate somewhat the advantages of modern technology. It is a deep discussion though with no ‘solution’ as such: the open source issue strikes me in the same way, there is no yes/no anwer that I can see.

Were something to go wrong, for me that might be a security breach for example of sensitive material, it would be quite unacceptable if it turned out I had used open source ‘equivalents’ even if that had nothing to do with the breech.

I also write in LaTeX which is also ‘open’ and, as folk here know, my favorite software, but that is generally understood by the submitees. As folk know it is widely used in several academic fields now. The ‘norm’ you might even say?

I use it also for letters, comments all kinds of things. I occasionaly use the Word clone Libre I have found though, no difference between Word and Libre. I don’t use fancy format and set ups and can’t vouch for every level of complexity one might wish to emulate with Libre.


In short, I would, if you don’t need to meet company/institution’s desiderata, which can be strict, just use Libre. I don’t think anybody needs Office if they have Libre.


I’ve used everything from StarOffice to OpenOffice to LibreOffice to Microsoft Office.

In general, if you’re using it because you need to interface and share files for read/write with somebody that’s using Microsoft Office for business reasons, you probably want Microsoft Office. There are just too many weird little edge cases.

If you just need to be able to read Office files, or if you just need a robust, solid word processor / spreadsheet, you’ll be fine with Libre.


For me, LibreOffice has three benefits over Microsoft Office. 1. Cost, 2. Imports old WordPerfect documents 3. Equation editor. Microsoft Office is better if you are doing collaboration and seems to work smoother. At any rate, I find Pages/Numbers/Keynote to be fine for just about everything. While Numbers may be less than stellar it has always done everything I’ve needed it to do and never have needed to resort to Excel or (LibreOffice) Calc.


Having used the Office applications since before it was a bundle, I tend to be rather accustomed to it. Some good reasons for my use case include:

  • I’m still in a corporation that moves way too slowly - only the last month we got upgraded to 365, so I decided to take the modest cost myself a couple of years back
  • I am way faster in Office when I need to do anything personal
  • No compability issues
  • OneDrive is included with 1TB of storage, so I save on Dropbox/iCloud bills
  • All the apps are included for iOS, very useful in meetings and while commuting
  • robust data analysis tools in Excel
1 Like

I think that is a succint summing up of the issue regarding this. I would endorse it 100%. As I said and will repeat, in my own case even if there were no ‘edge cases’ if I ran into a security problem and it turned out I wasn’t using the proscribed software I would anyway be in trouble, even if it was nothing to do with the breech. As you say the requirement exists because of under the hood issues one might know nothing about and, as you say, the inevitable ‘edge cases’. I never actually found one in Libre but I am not a high level user and might even have missed something.

So, I installed LO; during that process I learned that “For certain features of the software - but not most - Java is required.” This has been a point of contention on Macs for as long as I can remember, with the only Java available from Apple being a very old version (which I’m not sure is even there any more). What did the LibreOffice proponents on this thread do about this?

Most of my users only used the spreadsheet and occasionally the word processor, never the database. So we did not install Java.


LibreOffice is great. I used it extensively when I was a Linux user at university and it served me well for a long time.

The only issue I ever faced is that the export sometimes produced Word documents with strange formatting. I got papers rejected by journals and conferences a couple of times because the format was changed from official templates. In those cases I had to load them into Word to meet the submission requirements (CrossOver Office came to the rescue!)

Now, I’m a iWorks and Ulysses (for word processing) user and much prefer those apps due to their interfaces. I still have office installed because I have an institutional license and still publish in journals, but I only use it when I need to send for publication.

1 Like

Late to chiming in here. I use all kinds of suites (Google, MSO, LibreOffice). Here’s what I like about Libreoffice:

  • It replicates the essential features of MSO and makes it available to all.
  • It’s open source.
  • It comes pre-installed on so many Linux distros and is installable on every major OS.
  • It can also be accessed via a web interface on your private server (such as using, via Nextcloud). My example here: Word doc, Spreadsheet, Powerpoint (links expire in 1 month). I use a free account for Nextcloud (they provide links for you to decide what host you want to use).


I don’t have LibreOffice installed but was curious about it after reading this thread. What are the differences, if any, between the free version from the project’s website and LibreOffice Vanilla, which costs $21.99 in the Mac App Store (and which LibreOffice calls sourced from one of its ‘partners’)?

Presumably if you buy LibraOffice Vanilla or their “enterprise-ready” Collabora Office for $8 additional you get “support”. But I use that term loosely based on all of the negative reviews.

Actually, if you want to pay for LibraOffice, consider NeoOffice, which is also available in the App Store. They make an effort to have a more Mac-like user interface and have been doing this for 16 years.

Don’t go buy it! Use the free one.