It’s hard to choose between the strikingly similar Apache OpenOffice and LibreOffice free open source office suites. Review these details and features to find out which one would work best for you.
Apache OpenOffice vs. LibreOffice Review
Over the last two decades, two giants have emerged in the field of free open source office suites: Apache OpenOffice and LibreOffice. At first glance the two seem completely identical, so how does the average user choose? Explore the details and features of both office suites so you can decide for yourself which free program is right for you.
Both OpenOffice and LibreOffice are based on the same 20 years of stable development. It wasn’t until recently that LibreOffice branched out to become a separate entity. The OpenOffice and LibreOffice interfaces look almost exactly the same, with only subtle differences in the details. Both are designed to be similar to Microsoft Office, to make the transition easier for Microsoft users.
Both OpenOffice and LibreOffice open with a Start Center which allows you to choose which application you would like to use. Both even come included with the same applications: Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, Base, and Math. Writer is a word processing program similar to Microsoft Word, Calc is a spreadsheet program similar to Microsoft Excel, Impress is a presentation program similar to Microsoft PowerPoint, and Base is a database program similar to Microsoft Access. The similarities to Microsoft end there. Draw is an all-purpose diagramming and charting tool, and Math is a tool for inserting mathematical equations and formulas into documents. Neither Draw nor Math has a Microsoft counterpart.
Both OpenOffice and LibreOffice are compatible with almost every operating system, including Linux, Windows, and Mac. Both are compatible with all major competitor’s file formats, including Microsoft Office, and both are available in almost every language.
Both OpenOffice and LibreOffice feature accessibility options, a PDF exporter, and a wide variety of extensions and templates. Similar extensions for both include spellcheck dictionaries in various languages, template packs, and clipart. LibreOffice now comes with a built-in PDF importer and report builder, while OpenOffice still requires extensions for both. Other new LibreOffice built-in features include a wiki publisher and a presentation minimizer, which reduces the file size of a presentation.
Where OpenOffice and LibreOffice really differ is the area of support. Much of the community which developed and supported OpenOffice has recently switched to LibreOffice. As a result, LibreOffice is constantly being developed, updated, fixed, and patched. Most recently, LibreOffice has released updates in October and November of 2012, whereas OpenOffice hasn’t released an update since August. Much of OpenOffice’s web site contains broken links and missing images, making it difficult to navigate. However, much of LibreOffice’s web site is still in development and has yet to be built. Bloggers across the web seem to agree that LibreOffice is the clear choice between the two, if only for better support. Yet a few still prefer to stick with OpenOffice because it has worked well for them for so long, and it’s still stable, despite the lack of updates.
Overall, Apache OpenOffice and LibreOffice are almost indistinguishable from one another. The only real difference between the two is that LibreOffice is more meticulously maintained, and more recently updated with new features and bug fixes. Those who prefer to stick to the tried-and-true prefer OpenOffice, but those who prefer ongoing progress choose LibreOffice.
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