If you already have a good word processing program that you like, you might want to skip this article. However, if you are unhappy with your present choice or do not yet have a word processing program, I suggest you consider LibreOffice. I have written a number of times about LibreOffice. You can read my earlier articles by starting at http://goo.gl/wBLUv4. Most of the articles published in this newsletter in recent years have been written with LibreOffice, including the article you are reading at this moment.
LibreOffice is a FREE open source personal productivity suite for Windows, Macintosh and Linux, that gives you six feature-rich applications for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, and more. It competes directly with Microsoft Office (which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint). However, there is one major difference: price. LibreOffice is always FREE while Microsoft Office costs hundreds of dollars with the exact price varying depending upon the version you purchase.
To be sure, LibreOffice doesn't have as many features as Microsoft Office. If you are a "power user" of Word, Excel, or PowerPoint, you probably need the Microsoft products. Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and the other Microsoft office products are especially good at group collaboration as often required in business uses. However, today's announcement mentions that LibreOffice now has many of the same features demanded by power and enterprise users.
For personal needs of writing letters, newsletter articles, and other day-to-day requirements, I have always found LibreOffice to be more than "good enough" for my use. It also runs faster and is easier to use than most of the Microsoft Office applications. LibreOffice also reads and writes documents and spreadsheets in more file formats than does Microsoft Office. LibreOffice can create PDF files and it also creates rather good HTML files for direct publishing to the World Wide Web. Microsoft Office also can create HTML files but I have never had much luck with the files it creates.
The computer I am using at this moment has both an older version of Microsoft Office and the latest version of LibreOffice installed. I prefer LibreOffice because it runs faster, is much easier to use, and meets all my needs. I haven't used Microsoft Office for a couple of years, even though it is available to me at my fingertips. I don't plan to ever buy a newer version of Microsoft Office. You also might want to read 12 Ways LibreOffice Writer Tops Microsoft Word by Bruce Byfield at http://goo.gl/dg4FV. It is a two-year-old article but most of the information still applies to the latest versions of Office and of LibreOffice.
The Document Foundation today released LibreOffice version 4.2. I downloaded it and have used it for a few minutes. Admittedly, I don't see much difference yet but the new version reportedly adds a number of new features aimed at power and enterprise users. In addition, today's announcement says that the new version 4.2 is better integrated with Microsoft Windows. (I am using the Macintosh version so cannot verify that last statement.)
Here is the announcement:
LibreOffice 4.2: Focusing On Performance And Interoperability, And Improving The Integration With Microsoft Windows
Berlin, January 30, 2014 – The Document Foundation announces LibreOffice 4.2, a new major release targeted to early adopters and another significant step forward for the best free office suite ever. LibreOffice 4.2 features a large number of performance and interoperability improvements targeted to users of all kinds, but particularly appealing for power and enterprise users. In addition, it is better integrated with Microsoft Windows.
Calc has gone through the largest code refactoring ever, giving major performance wins for big data (especially when calculating cell values, and importing large and complex XLSX spreadsheets), while an optional new formula interpreter enables massively parallel calculation of formula cells using the GPU via OpenCL. The latter works best with a Heterogeneous System Architecture (HSA) such as the new AMD Kaveri APU.
Round-trip interoperability with Microsoft OOXML, particularly for DOCX, as well as legacy RTF, has also improved considerably. Also, new import filters for Abiword documents and Apple Keynote presentations have been added.
LibreOffice 4.2 offers two Windows specific improvements for business users: a simplified custom install dialog to avoid potential mistakes, and the ability to centrally manage and lock-down the configuration with Group Policy Objects via Active Directory. All users benefit from better integration with Windows 7 and 8, with thumbnails of open documents now grouped by application and a list of recent documents, both showing on the task bar.
Power users on all platforms will like the flexibility of the Expert Configuration window, which has been added to the Advanced Options tab. This feature can be easily turned off, for large deployments and basic users.
LibreOffice 4.2 offers a new Start screen, with a cleaner layout that makes better use of the available space – even on small screens – and shows a preview of the last documents.
On the mobile side, LibreOffice now supports an Impress Remote Control for iOS – in addition to the already available Impress Remote Control for Android – which allows visual management of presentation delivery on the laptop using the screen of an iPhone or iPad. The app is currently waiting for review from Apple, and will be announced as soon as it is available on iTunes Store.
LibreOffice 4.2 is the first open source suite to ship a new Windows (IAccessible2 based) accessibility feature developed by IBM. This is considered experimental for this release, but will replace legacy Java based accessibility in the next major release.
The LibreOffice User Interface continues to undergo significant cleanup with 70% of our dialogs now refreshed and many distributed UI tweaks. This release also includes a beautiful new “flat” icon theme – Sifr – and an updated set of default document styles.
All new and improved features of LibreOffice 4.2, including those not listed here, are summarized in this webpage: https://www.libreoffice.org/download/4-2-new-features-and-fixes/.
Meet the community
In early February, the LibreOffice community will gather at FOSDEM 2014 in Brussels, where developers will present at the Open Document Editors DevRoom the latest and greatest technologies integrated by LibreOffice, and other volunteers will meet free software advocates at the LibreOffice booth.
In early March, The Document Foundation will exhibit at CeBIT in Hannover to showcase LibreOffice 4.2: Hall 6, Booth H14.
LibreOffice 4.2 is immediately available for download from the following link: http://www.libreoffice.org/download/. Extensions for LibreOffice are available from the following link: http://extensions.libreoffice.org/extension-center.
Support The Document Foundation
LibreOffice users, free software advocates and community members can support The Document Foundation with a donation at http://donate.libreoffice.org. Money collected will be used to grow the infrastructure, and support marketing activities to increase the awareness of the project, both at global and local level.
Thanks to the efforts of several native language projects and volunteers, this press release is also available in Arabic, Dutch, French, Galitian, German, Italian, Japanese, Brazilian Portuguese, Slovenian, Spanish and Turkish from this page: http://blog.documentfoundation.org/libreoffice-4-2/. We will add other languages in the future.