Most people are all ears when when they hear there is something for nothing and wise people will investigate any offer that seems to be something for nothing. As someone said, “If it sounds too good to be true then it probably is”.

That is not the case with Open Source software generally and includes most Linux distributions and as regards the topic of this page in particular, LibreOffice.

LibreOffice may be downloaded free of any financial costs and can be installed on Microsoft Windows versions and is often included in popular Linux distributions such as Mint and Ubuntu as part of the package.

It's amazing what you can get for free. Compatible with Microsoft Office earlier and later versions and employing a similar basic range of features it can perform about 95% - 98% of the tasks that most people use an office program for. The latest versions of LibreOffice will open Word, Excel and Powerpoint documents no problem plus Microsoft Works files too. Earlier versions won't open specialist files such as Microsoft Publisher but people shouldn't be sending Publisher files because even Microsoft Office users won't generally have Publisher installed anyway (economy versions of Microsoft Office include Word, Excel and Powerpoint only). *

In fairness to Microsoft there are tasks that Microsoft Office can do that LibreOffice can't but in general these are tasks associated with commercial and widespread distribution tasks. Even so the uptake of LibreOffice by commercial users is vast, the French Police force being just one example of this.

There is however a major situation with LibreOffice that needs to be acted on.

A similar problem also exists with Microsoft Office later versions.

After installation of LibreOffice any documents saved will be in OpenOffice format. That makes it incompatible with Microsoft Office earlier versions so that sending files in OpenOffice format will mean that recipients won't be able to open the files you send them.

This is easily overcome.

When LibreOffice is first installed locate the Tools menu and open Options. In the window that will open go to Load/Save and go to General and then save Text Documents as Word, Spreadsheets as Excel and Presentations as Powerpoint. LibreOffice Writer also allows you to select how you view documents either as metric or imperial.

One caution. It's possible to do some fancy artistic work in LibreOffice such as making text angled or inverted. If you do so then save in OpenOffice format and also as a .pdf file if the file is for distribution.

I will add that there are other free Office distributions available but have no experience of them. With all of them however – what have you got to lose by using them since they are free.


* Update on LibreOffice

LibreOffice versions 4 x onwards can now open Microsoft Publisher files although if they are modified in LibreOffice they will need to be saved in LibreOffice format. This is a huge step forward in attachment circulation.