I’ve been using Microsoft Office for quite some time. I’ve been around early enough to use Microsoft Office 97. Microsoft Office has been great, up until Office 2007 was released. It’s like the “Vista” of the office software. Is it all that bad? No, but getting there. The biggest suprise to me was the abscense of the “solver” that was included in previous versions of Microsoft Office.

I’m not hear to write a nasty review about Microsoft Office. I will be comparing an office suite called LibreOffice to Microsoft Office.

Although LibreOffice has its share of cons, it is the best office suite I have ever used. LibreOffice has almost all of the bells and whistles that Microsoft Office has. You have the Writer (equivalent of Word), Impress (equivalent of PowerPoint), and Calc (equivalent of Excel). There is more to the LibreOffice suite, such as an equivalent of Microsoft Access, but I will not mention those since the average user only uses Word, Excel, or PowerPoint.

Every dollar counts, especially when I was a college student. LibreOffice is distributed for free. I can install it on all of my computers without worrying about a multi-user license. This software is also free if you decide to use it for commercial use. When I said “free,” I’m not talking about a trial. LibreOffice is an open source office suite. The cost of Microsoft Office adds up. If you read the user license, you can only install Microsoft office on one computer. There is a “Home and Student” version of Microsoft Office is the cheapest version and can be installed on up to three computers. That version would not have all of the features like the ones in the full version of Microsoft Office. Business owners and other professionals may be violating Microsoft’s license if they use the “Home and Student” version of Microsoft Office.┬áThe price per computer could be somewhere between $200-$400 depending on the version you purchase.

Like almost all office suites, LibreOffice saves files in it’s own format, but you also have the option of saving files as a Word, Excel, or PowerPoint document, making it compatible with your friends and co-workers that use Microsoft Office. A feature that I have not seen included with older versions of Microsoft Office is the option of saving files as a PDF. Current versions of Microsoft Office should have this feature, and if not, with Microsoft Office, you can always install an external program such as PrimoPDF (free) or get the professional version of Adobe Acrobat (must pay) to save files as PDFs. With older and new versions of LibreOffice, there is a button that you can click on that says “Export to PDF.”

So far, I have done nothing but praise LibreOffice. Now I get to comment on its short comings. LibreOffice has a great spellchecker, but it doesn’t come with a grammar checker. You can add on a grammar checker using a plugin, but it’s still not as good as the grammar check you would use with Microsoft Office. The upside of all of this is that you are forced to proofread your work. There is a reason why you have that thing that is attached to your neck. Feel free to use it once in a while.

Although it is compatible with Microsoft Office, some files may not “look” right. I have not come across any problems with viewing a Word document or Excel file with LibreOffice. There are some issues with PowerPoint presentations. I don’t see problems with all PowerPoint presentations, but on some the format of the text will differ from a presentation originally created with Microsoft PowerPoint.

Obviously, my choice between the two office suites is LibreOffice. The cost of Microsoft Office is a little much for me. The only reason why I would use Microsoft Office is if I have other software that relies on it. Lucky for me, I don’t. Let me clear some things up before I end this write up. I wrote this comparison from a legal perspective. Some people will probably argue that they only paid for Microsoft Office once and installed it on their own computer and for their friends’ and families. When you do that, you are clearly violating the license agreement. Here is a tip for anyone that is buying a computer from someone or from eBay. If the original software disc is not included with the computer/laptop, in most cases, the software is illegal. Some people would probably call my comparison unfair because you can download a full version of Microsoft Office from the internet. If you feel like contributing to pirated software, feel free to download the full version from the internet. I also urge you to look up the fine for using a pirated copy of Microsoft Office or violating the license agreement.

Here is the single feature that really sets LibreOffice apart from Microsoft Office. Similar to WordPress, you can easily extend LibreOffice with the use of plugins. If you see a plugin you like, download it and use the extension manager to install it. You pay money for Microsoft Office 2007, yet it does not come with a “solver.” You don’t pay for LibreOffice and you can add on the “solver” without paying. For all that don’t know, the “solver” is a feature in older version of Microsoft Office that does all of the calculations for you when you are dealing with optimization problems, quantitative business analysis problems, and materials resource planning problems.

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