Blog navigation

Latest posts

Office suites compared: Is a paid or free solution better?


In today's increasingly computerised and digitalised world, office softwares have become a fundamental part of the professional and everyday life. Among the most popular office suites are Microsoft Office (with exclusives, dedicated updates and optimised applications), LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice. These softwares offer a range of tools for creating, editing and managing documents, spreadsheets and presentations. In this article, we will explore the main similarities and differences between these three office suites.


1. Basic applications

All three suites include the essentials office applications:

Word processor: Microsoft Word (in Microsoft Office), Writer (in LibreOffice) and Writer (in Apache OpenOffice) allow you to create text documents, format them and add elements such as images and charts.

Spreadsheet: Excel (in Microsoft Office), Calc (in LibreOffice) and Calc (in Apache OpenOffice) are used to create complex spreadsheets with advanced calculations.

Presentations: PowerPoint (in Microsoft Office), Impress (in LibreOffice) and Impress (in Apache OpenOffice) are mandatory for creating presentations with slides.

Additional applications: all three suites also include applications for database management, vector drawing and mathematical formula creation.

2. Compatibility with file formats

LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice are both open source projects that aim to ensure compatibility with Microsoft Office file formats, such as .docx for text documents and .xlsx for spreadsheets. In doing so, it is possible for users to open and edit documents created with Microsoft Office without having compatibility problems.

Microsoft Office is integrated with other Microsoft services. When using other Microsoft services, such as OneDrive for cloud storage, Outlook for email management or Teams for business communication, the integration with Microsoft Office is virtually unrivalled. These services combine seamlessly with Microsoft Office, simplifying documents  management, communication and collaboration in a single environment.
Last but not least, online services can now offer built-in artificial intelligence support (Microsoft 365) and exclusive tools, fonts and templates that only the brand can boast, depending on our Microsoft plan subscription, as well as data storage plans, not available with competitors.

Free and Open Source

LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice are free and open source, which means that anyone can download, use and even modify them. Microsoft Office, on the other hand, is a commercial software that requires a licence fee.

Although it is commonly believed that open source softwares are dangerous, they go through rigorous security tests and are submitted to constant review by the open source community.

Open source software guarantees:

Source code transparency: their source code is open and accessible to anyone. This means that developers and security experts can examine the code to identify and fix potential vulnerabilities in a timely manner.

Active community: open source suites are supported by highly active communities of developers. These experts are constantly working to improve the security of the software, regularly releasing updates and amendments.

Quick response to threats: when security vulnerabilities are found in open source softwares, the community reacts promptly to correct them and release security patches.


User interface

Microsoft Office 

It has a large and established user base and offers a highly recognisable user interface. It is known for the clean and professional design of its applications, which are always updated, and its premium plans offer simplicity, intuitiveness, convenience and speed that other softwares cannot compete with.

LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice 

Both open source suites have similar interfaces, but tend to be somewhat less refined than Microsoft Office. However, they offer some flexibility in adapting the user interface to personal preferences.

Advanced functionality

Microsoft Office often offers advanced functionality and integrated collaboration tools that may be more comprehensive than LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice. However, many of the advanced features may not be necessary for occasional users.

The following is a list of some of the main advanced functionalities of Microsoft Office

  • Microsoft Outlook, a powerful email client offering advanced management features for emails, calendar, contacts and tasks. 
  • Microsoft Excel, with Advanced Data Analysis Expressions (DAX) and Microsoft Power Bi
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) functionality
  • Compatibility with Teams and Cloud
  • The optimization of applications such as Publisher & Access, included in packages (Professional Plus or Microsoft 365) compatible with Windows systems.
  • Constant and effective updates.

Technical support

Microsoft offers premium technical support for its products, whereas LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice depend mainly on the open source community for support and updates. This means that the support for open source suites may not be as effective or thorough.
To deal with inconveniences, Microsoft takes advantage of various free Office-related tools on its official pages (click here to read more about Microsoft's troubleshooting tool), tailored to all circumstances and needs.

Extensions and plugins

LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice offer a wide range of community-created extensions and plugins that can be used to extend the functionality of the suites. Microsoft Office also has an ecosystem of extensions, but it is not as extensive as the open source ones.

Preview Office Comparisons tabel

In conclusion 

To sum up, the choice between Microsoft Office, LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice depends on your specific needs. If you are looking for a comprehensive software with solid technical support and you are willing to pay, Microsoft Office may be the best choice. On the other hand, if you’d rather go for a free option and have less need for advanced functionality, LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice are good open source alternatives. Regardless, all three office suites offer powerful tools for creating and managing your documents, spreadsheets and presentations.

Please be aware that Office packages are divided between complete suites with no expiry date and annual or packages with a Microsoft subscription.

  • To learn more about the top-of-the-line Office suites for your Mac, click here.
  • If you’d like to find out more about the benefits and extras offered by the annual Office subscriptions, you can click here for the multi-user version, or here for the Personal 365 package.
  • Lastly, to get more insights about the Office Professional Plus packages (without expiry date) for your PC, click here.
Posted in: Microsoft