The two program suites, OpenOffice and LibreOffice, are popular free alternatives to Microsoft Office. But what exactly is the difference between the two? We have put together the key features for you to compare.
Why are OpenOffice and LibreOffice so similar?
OpenOffice and LibreOffice have a common history: it all started with StarOffice. This program is an office suite. Sun, the company behind StarOffice, eventually decided to release the source code. This means that the program became open source from that point on. Since then, every user can customize the program to their own preferences or even use lines of code for their own program.
The StarOffice project was then renamed to OpenOffice. Later, Sun was acquired by Oracle, who ultimately turned OpenOffice into Apache OpenOffice.org. However, the small group within the open-source community that had been working on OpenOffice continued their work. Since Oracle had also acquired the rights to the name OpenOffice, the former developers of OpenOffice founded “The Document Foundation” community. The work on the office suite has since continued, but under the name LibreOffice.
Are there any differences?
At first glance, the two programs appear very similar. Essentially, they are, due to their shared history. Both include a full-featured office suite with the main components: Writer (word processing), Calc (spreadsheets), Impress (presentations), and Draw (drawings).
Additionally, both program suites use Open Document files (.odt) as their base file format. The two programs are available for Windows, MacOS, and Linux. The basic functions in the respective components are the same, but there are also some minor differences:
A disadvantage of OpenOffice is the lack of a 64-bit version. This is frustrating because 64-bit versions of operating systems like Windows work faster. Documents in the .docx format (documents created with newer versions of Microsoft Word) can be used by both programs. This means that both programs can open files in this format and also save documents in this format. However, if complex formatting has been included through Word, both programs sometimes struggle to adopt the format. OpenOffice, however, has more difficulty with this than LibreOffice. An advantage of LibreOffice is that significantly more developers work on this program. This results in faster bug fixes and allows everyone to focus better on their respective areas of expertise.
Additionally, there are significantly more updates for LibreOffice. This brings more security – although regular updates in short intervals can also quickly become irritating or even annoying. Ultimately, everyone has to decide for themselves which program is better suited for their needs. Because there are virtually no functional differences. However, at this point in time, more technical advantages of LibreOffice over OpenOffice can be recognized.