Libre Office 5 review: The open source office alternative

Cross-platform support and compatibility with Office files on any OS.

Credit: Libre Office

Libre Office came to be when the community developing Open Office jumped ship several years back and created their own suite on the same code. Without going in to the details of the divorce, suffice it to say Libre Office has fared better than its ancestor, both in terms of development and popularity.

Like Open Office, Libre Office includes includes six programs: Write (word processing), Calc (spreadsheets), Impress (presentation), Base (database management), Draw (vector graphics) and Math (mathematical formulae). It’s free to use on Windows, Mac, and Linux desktops.

This review is part of our roundup of best Microsoft Office alternatives. Go there for details on competing products and buying advice.

Hands on

Because Libre Office was forked off Open Office, there are, unsurprisingly, many similarities between the two. Libre Office has the same Office 2003-style static menu look with easily navigated icons and toolbars. The only real difference is that it adds a splash of color akin to the current version of Microsoft Office and generally feels more polished.

lo52 writer 01 Libre Office

Libre Office seamlessly translates Office formats, including complex documents.

Libre Office uses open document format as its native format, but it can also read and write a range of Microsoft Office formats including the newer DOCX, PPT, and PPTX files. In our tests, it better handled the more complex documents that Open Office struggled with. The installed template selection pales compared to what you get with Microsoft Office, but you can beef it up with downloads from Libre Office’s Extensions and Templates library.

There’s no native cloud integration, but Libre Office does have a Remote Files feature that allows you to access files outside servers like Google Drive and OneDrive. That can facilitate sharing files for group review—track changes and commenting are supported—but no real-time authoring.

Standout features

  • Fantastic compatibility with Microsoft Office formats
  • Familiar Office-like interface

Missing features

  • Integrated cloud storage
  • Real-time co-authoring

Libre Office is best for:

Libre Office should be the choice of open source enthusiasts. Having relative feature parity with Open Office, it comes down to the release frequency of new features and fixes, and Libre Office wins that race hands down. As of this writing, Open Office’s last update was a year ago; Libre Office’s latest release came last month. That makes Libre Office the obvious choice for businesses, schools, and anywhere else security is important. And if you’re a Linux user, you may already be using Libre Office as it’s now included with many Linux distributions.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Michael Ansaldo

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Bang and Olufsen Beosound Stage - Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Nakamichi Delta 100 3-Way Hi Fi Speaker System

Learn more >

ASUS ROG, ACRONYM partner for Special Edition Zephyrus G14

Learn more >

Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean 9000 Toothbrush

Learn more >

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for Nintendo Switch

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Teac 7 inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD Player

Learn more >

SunnyBunny Snowflakes 20 LED Solar Powered Fairy String

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?