I ditched Microsoft Word several years ago and started experimenting with different word processors. I eventually settled on LibreOffice, a FREE suite of programs that includes a word processor (replacing Microsoft Word), a spreadsheet program (replacing Microsoft Excel), a presentation program (replacing Microsoft PowerPoint), a drawing program, a database creation and management program, and a formula editor that can be invoked in your text documents, spreadsheets, presentations and drawings, to enable you to insert mathematical and scientific formulas. LibreOffice is available for Windows, Macintosh, and Linux.
NOTE: The LibreOffice programs are similar to, but different from, Microsoft Office. It is not 100% compatible. For instance, macros in LibreOffice’s spreadsheet program are different from those in Microsoft Excel. Even so, the LibreOffice suite of programs meets the needs of hundreds of thousands of computer users, corporations, and non-profits around the world.
Best of all is the price tag: FREE. LibreOffice never asks for payments although the sponsoring organization will accept donations. Most of the articles published in this newsletter, including the article you are reading at this moment, were created with LibreOffice.
Now the non-profit producers of LibreOffice have announced that an online version will be created to compete with Google Docs and Microsoft Office 365. While the product is not yet available, it probably will be a true cloud-based application with no need to install software in the user’s computer. To run LibreOffice, all the user needs to do is to open a web browser and connect to a bank of servers on the Internet. This will be great for use on borrowed computers, public access computers at a library or an Internet cafe, or with a Chromebook.
The good news is that LibreOffice Online (Called “LOOL”) will feature:
- 100% document fidelity between LibreOffice desktop and LibreOffice Online.
- Collaborative editing with multiple simultaneous users and cursors.
- All Writer, Calc, and Impress supported file-types supported.
- Initially will include a basic HTML5 user interface.
The bad news is that the online suite of programs will not be available for use for a year, possibly longer. (The present version of LibreOffice will remain available, however.)
The new LibreOffice suite of programs will have greatly increased security when compared to Google Docs and to Microsoft Office 365. Unlike those two suites of programs, it will not run on one group of severs under the control of one corporation. Instead, the new LibreOffice cloud app can be installed on any Linux server and the individual Windows, Macintosh, and Linux desktop and laptop computers will connect to those systems wherever they are. This increased security will appeal to corporations who will now not be dependent on the security of some other company. Instead, the server software can be installed on servers owned and operated by the company, even behind a firewall inside the company’s own internal network. The result will be that business-critical information will never leave the company’s own network and servers, improving security.
I expect the ability to install the application on local servers to become very popular with corporations but probably will not appeal to individual users. Instead, a number of different hosting companies will install the software on their own servers and make access available to customers for free or for very low prices, much cheaper than purchasing a copy of Microsoft Office. This online access, couple with encrypted VPN connections, will result in highly-secure operation although not quite as secure as having the server software installed on your company’s own servers. I also suspect a few individuals who possess technical knowledge will want to install the server software on their own servers although that undoubtedly will be a small percentage of all the potential private users.
A year or possibly more is a long time to wait. If you are looking for a new suite of office applications that is available today and are interested in a high-quality free product, you might check out LibreOffice right now at https://www.libreoffice.org. You will need to download and install today’s version on your own Windows, Macintosh, or Linux computer(s).
You can learn more about the newly-announced but not yet ready LibreOffice Online in the press release at http://goo.gl/e7Sylw.