LibreOffice vs Microsoft Office – Which is Best for You?

The main difference between LibreOffice and Microsoft is that LibreOffice is a free, open source office suite while Microsoft Office is a commercial office product package that requires users to purchase a license. Both will run on multiple platforms and both provide similar functionality.

LibreOffice will run on Windows, Mac and Linux. There are versions of Microsoft Office for Windows and Mac. However, running Microsoft Office on Linux can get complicated.

Beyond economics, there are several ways to consider which office suite will be right for you in the long run. Here is a comparison between LibreOffice and Microsoft Office to help you make an informed decision.

We will compare:

  • Programs.
  • File compatibility.
  • Toolbar.
  • Cloud computing service.
  • User support.


One important thing to consider when choosing between LibreOffice and Microsoft Office is the programs they offer.

Both sets of products feature similar productivity tools that perform the same functions. LibreOffice includes the following software programs:

  • Spreadsheet: Calc
  • Word processing: Writer
  • Presentation: Impressive
  • Database: Base
  • Math: Formula Editor
  • Drawing: Vector Graphics

Microsoft Office (365 individual subscription) offers:

  • Excel Spreadsheet
  • Word processing: Word
  • Presentation: PowerPoint
  • Database: Access (PC users only)
  • Email: Outlook
  • Desktop Publishing: Publisher (PC users only)

One key difference is that LibreOffice doesn’t come with an email program like Outlook from Microsoft Office. However, it is easy enough to use the add-on. For example, Thunderbird is a feature-rich free email client.

File Compatibility

LibreOffice is compatible with most popular file formats from Microsoft Office including XLSX, DOCX, and PPTX. It is also compatible with non-Microsoft product formats.

However, Microsoft Office documents are not always identical in LibreOffice. One of the reasons is Microsoft uses its own fonts.

Another reason is that the data displayed and interpreted on the screen is different in both sets of products. This can cause problems if you share files with others often. In this case, it may be more convenient to use the same set of products.

With Microsoft Office, newer versions of their products are often incompatible with older versions of their own products. If you open and try to save a Microsoft document from someone who is using a different version, you will see a message telling you that some features are not supported by earlier versions.

The message also informs you that unsupported features may be lost or downgraded when you save the document. You can choose to continue or cancel to save the file in a newer format.

LibreOffice beats Microsoft Office in file compatibility because it supports more formats, including a built-in option to export documents as an e-book (EPUB).

LibreOffice vs Microsoft Office: Toolbars

The set of toolbars at the top of windows in programs are called ribbon toolbars. It is designed to help users find the commands they want to use quickly.

The most recent versions of Microsoft Office limit the customizations you can make. You can:

  • Customize the arrangement of your commands and tabs to arrange them in the order you want.
  • Hide or show the ribbon and commands you don’t use often.
  • Import or export custom ribbons.

You won’t be able to reduce the size of the ribbon or the icons and text on the ribbon.

The toolbars in LibreOffice don’t work the same way. They work the same way as with older versions of Microsoft Office. However, with the latest release (6.2), LibreOffice introduced an optional user interface called NotebookBar.

When enabled, the NotebookBar unifies toolbars by grouping them into tabs. You can switch between tabs to access different options and features.

It offers more user interface styles than Microsoft Office.

Cloud Computing Service

When you purchase a license for Microsoft Office, Microsoft OneDrive integrated into all programs. It has more space than a free OneDrive account and is the default save location for all your documents.

LibreOffice does not include any cloud storage. You can use services like OneDrive (doesn’t own Office), Dropbox, or another cloud storage provider to sync your files to the cloud.

User Support

When you pay for a Microsoft Office license, you’re also buying customer support. You can use the online chatbot, live chat support, or call to speak to a person in person. In addition, Microsoft published a set of instructions to help you use their products.

LibreOffice, like all open source platforms, relies on support from users in the volunteer community for their expertise and time. Since the product is free, there is no obligation to provide support, so you may have to wait a little longer for an answer to your question.

Also no phone support. This can be a problem if you are working on a time-sensitive project. However, there is a large amount of information and help in the form of contribution to the community.

You can find information in Document Organization Wiki or send a query through the ticketing system on Ask.LibreOffice. LibreOffice even provides a channel for live chat.

LibreOffice vs Microsoft Office – Which is Best for You?

LibreOffice, which is free, offers a powerful suite of office products. They are maintained and improved by a community of dedicated developers. What it lacks in products or functionality when compared to Microsoft Office, can be made up for in some cases by adding apps or add-ons.

The most significant difference between them is how they work across platforms and online. Microsoft Office places a lot of emphasis on the cloud and allows users to open and save files anywhere. It also allows you to use their products on a variety of devices, including phones, tablets, and computers.

Additionally, LibreOffice runs on macOS, Linux, and Windows. Users can only view files on Android and iOS.

Which is best for you will depend on your specific needs and requirements. One is not better or worse than the other.

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