The future without Microsoft Office products 

I recently submitted a proposal to remove Microsoft Office from off my network and switch to Google Apps for Work and LibreOffice. This would incur a cost savings of ~$17.50 per user per month (GAFW $5 plan versus Office 2016 Professional Plus, Corporate, Open License, License Only). Some may argue that there are better license options with Microsoft and the $508 per user per 2 years (with the open license; source: http://mla.microsoft.com) is not a fair estimation, however, it is not fair to compare a stagnant version of Office versus the always updated version of GAFW or LibreOffice.

With LibreOffice, I can contribute a patch, submit it upstream, get it reviewed, and have it accepted into main stream. If I couldn’t wait for it to get to upstream, I could recompile with my patch and get it deployed in a matter of hours. This is the power and strength of open source software. Even with Google Apps, I submit a feature request, wait for it, and get the updated version when it arrives – I don’t have to buy a new version to get this new feature. This is the power of SaaS.
Word processing is also not proprietary. What you see on the screen in Microsoft Office, Google Apps, or LibreOffice will be what you get when you print it out or email it. LibreOffice and Microsoft Office save in formats that are compatible with each other. LibreOffice reads and writes docx and xlsx, and Microsoft Office reads and writes odf and ods.

The biggest hurdle to switch is that Microsoft Office included odbc connectors in a spreadsheet program (Excel) instead of directing users to a database program (access). LibreOffice did it right by making a spreadsheet program (calc) do spreadsheet things only and their database (base) connect via odbc to other databases. LibreOffice has Microsoft beat in that you can open more odbc types such as a MySQL database.

Before marrying me, my wife was a secretary for 5 years. All she used was Microsoft Office products until she used my computer to type a recipe document. Her response was, “this is different.” She told me later that she had to look for her formatting tools, but when she found them there was no difference except the tools she used were in different places than where they were in Microsoft Office. This is by far the best reason to use LibreOffice and Google Apps – you can save money and lose none of the features.

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