OpenOffice was the first big, mainstream free software competitor to Microsoft Office, and because of that, it still has mainstream name recognition—which is a problem.
Developers have almost all moved to LibreOffice, the spiritual successor to OpenOffice. But OpenOffice continues to be operated as its own project, seeing little development and only drawing potential LibreOffice users to a defunct piece of software.
Indeed, Microsoft's marketing team published a press release recently saying Office 365 is about 80% cheaper compared to the open source office suite, OpenOffice - with the figures stemming from reports in Italy and the City Council of Pesaro. The Redmond giant claims that to roll out Open Office, Pesaro incurred a one off cost of about €300,000 and had lots of problems with document formatting.
But equally how would you convince a public sector organisation to migrate to your cloud services instead of using 'expensive' open source software?
The obvious way would be to present a case study from a similar organisation together with a well written report commissioned to an "independent" consultancy firm. At this point your future customer has all the data and justifications required to sign on the dotted line.
And some journalists are now presenting this case as fact of Microsoft Office 365 being 80% more economical than open source alternatives.
I would argue that this is an isolated case and the PR efforts by big technology vendors, like many other methods, are being used to trick private and public organisations into signing contracts based on data or claims that may be not completely true.
We reported a couple of months ago that a group of Ubuntu Touch developers started developing a new core app for Canonical's mobile operating system, a viewer for documents created with the open-source LibreOffice office suite.
Viewing LibreOffice documents inside GNOME Documents (the Evince Viewer) will soon yield a better experience thanks to work accomplished this year as part of Google's Summer of Code.
Second-time GSoC student developer Pranav Kant focused this year on improving the LibreOffice support within GNOME Documents. His GSoC project summary explained, "Integrate gtktiledviewer into GNOME-Documents - Today, GNOME Documents spawns LibreOffice via a rather unreliable unoconv command-line that converts documents to PDF. It is not only unreliable but also the results are not good, for example, spreadsheet rendering results are quite bad. With this project, we would be improving the existing libreofficekit based gtk tiled renderer, which would, then, be a very good replacement of the unreliable unoconv command in gnome-documents."
Today’s release of LibreOffice-from-Collabora 4.4 combines Collabora’s latest compatibility, deployment management, and document integrity features with a host of improvements from the LibreOffice community. Redesigned toolbars, menus, rulers, and dialogues make these powerful additions more attractive and efficient to use.
The latest LibreOffice 5.0 is out for some time and it looks like the feature parity with Microsoft Office 2013 is now a lot better. The official wiki from The Document Foundation that shows off the differences and similarities between the two office suites has been updated, and it paints a pretty accurate picture of the progress that's being made.
It’s free! It’s open! But does LibreOffice deliver on its promise of a powerful office suite for normal users?