Article from Tcat Houser editor-in-chief of TRCBNews.com.
It is probably a fair bet that as long as humans are Homo sapiens we are going to see forking of our binaries. As with most things there are both reasons to cheer and have a feeling of doom. Here we are going to look at the three most popular Office Suites: OpenOffice, LibreOffice, and Microsoft Office.
Unless you are a student of history or like me, are a human fossil, you would not know there was a day when Microsoft was the rebel camp. Data was chained in silos, hidden behind glass walls and maintained by high priests. It was also very expensive. A user had to go to a high priest and beg for services.
Microsoft was the rebel leader with a very low-cost operating system and programming language. It grew up to become the benevolent dictator. Somewhere along the way it lost the word, benevolent.
There was an independent company in Silicon Valley known as Sun Microsystems. While they made their money in hardware with their Sparc systems, they had a low-cost competitor to the Microsoft Office Suite known as Star Office. It really was not very good however I would buy some copies at $50 a seat because even in the late 1990s Microsoft was already losing its benevolence.
OpenOffice traces its roots back to StarOffice. With the collapse of Sun Microsystems they were swallowed up by Oracle. In a political move the company spent more time worrying about what they’re going to do with Java then Star Office/Open Office. However they did not ignore it and rallied to remove any leader of the project that was not an Oracle employee.
This caused a groundswell of revolution and LibreOffice was born. So was a fork in the programming code.
Most of the Linux distributions went with LibreOffice. Certainly, this make sense as OpenOffice was being managed and maintained solely by Oracle Corporation.
Over the years the dust has settled a bit and the animosity between the two alternatives to Microsoft Office has abated.
Which Should You Choose?
That is a very difficult question to answer, without knowing more about your situation. You may in fact need to use Microsoft Office.
It’s a Matter of Collaboration
It really depends on your work environment. If what you are doing in knowledge working and management is done 100% either by yourself or within a single entity if you choose to break out a hammer and chisel carving Slate stones before inking them and running paper over the inked stone, you can get away with it.
If you have to send documents and spreadsheets to other people you may or may not be able to get away with using one of the open source office suites.
It’s a Matter of Complexity
Both LibreOffice and OpenOffice are here to stay. Personally, I use LibreOffice and Microsoft Office.
LibreOffice has features that I both want and need that I cannot find in Microsoft Office. Some of the free extensions out there are just incredible. However there is one area where OpenOffice beats LibreOffice, hands down. That is compatibility in the output to Microsoft Office.
Where we sit and 2013 is: LibreOffice is more nimble and has more features offered. And this comes at the expense of the compatibility of the output to Microsoft Office. This is where OpenOffice leaves LibreOffice in the dust.
Because of my collaboration needs I also must have Microsoft Office. One area where Microsoft leaves the other office competitors in the dust is in the spreadsheet arena. Microsoft has welded it to its SQL. There are third-party worksheets that even unpopulated with data that would not fit on yesterday’s floppy.
When All You Have Is a Hammer, Everything Looks like a Nail
I know I’m not going to be able to change human nature. People will continue to try to use a word processor when a document processor such as LaTeX would be a better choice. I have watched knowledge workers use auto complete to manage as an address book.
You and I might know a better way. That does not mean we get to be the benevolent dictator.
If you are forced to deal with other people that use Microsoft Office out of laziness or necessity, the reality is OpenOffice is your better choice. The more you are producing your output for faxing, camera ready output or other finished product the more freedom you have. In that case you will probably be happier with LibreOffice
That’s how I see it and I stand in front of you ready to take the arrows.
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