New blog compares Microsoft Office, LibreOffice, and Google Drive

 One of OS-College’s key focuses is on applications that run equally well on multiple operating systems. They have the same features and tools, regardless of the platform they run on. The first set of applications covered by this communication and education firm is one of the most universal types of applications: office suites. Every industry and almost every person who operates a computer uses one.

 

Microsoft Office has become the most popular office suites over the past few decades. There are other suites, however, ones that work equally well on multiple operating systems. Since Office dominates the market, however, and is the standard for most workers, the purpose of this blog is to compare them and their features to Microsoft Office.

 

This article is first in the series that compares LibreOffice, and sometimes Google Drive, to Microsoft Office. Most of the articles will only compare LibreOffice and Microsoft Office. These two are most alike. They both can be installed on an operating system. They also have many more features than Google Drive and its applications. However, Google Drive has many of the same tools that the other two have and some features that they do not have, so some articles will include Drive.

 

Below is a basic overview of the three suites. Each section gives an overview of the applications and features for them. They also briefly give the history for each suite and a look at its cross-platform capabilities.

 

Microsoft Office

The flagship product of the tech giant has been the dominate office suite since the 1990s. Two of its central applications were first introduced as stand alone products in the 1980s. Word first hit the market in 1983 on MS-DOS, and Excel was released in 1985 to compete with Lotus 1-2-3. PowerPoint was first released in 1987 for Mac, and as part of the first version of Office for Windows in 1990. The initial Office was a bundled package of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. The three applications have  been available for both Windows and Mac for more than two decades.

 

Currently, Office runs on several operating systems: Windows, Mac, Online, Android, and iOS. The Windows version has more features and applications than the other versions. Microsoft has always sold its applications for a one-time fee and delivered through physical media, such as a floppy disk or DVD. Recently , the corporation started offering its applications through its Website for a monthly or annual fee. There are different plans for home office and business.The service is called 365.

 

For home users, there are two plans: $69.99 annually ($6.99/month) for use on a single Windows or Mac computer or $99.99 annually ($9.99 per month) for use on up to five computers. For both platforms, the plans offer Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Outlook. Windows computers can also download Access and Publisher. The $99.99 plan allows you to install Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook on up to five Android, iPad, or Windows tablets in addition to the computers.

 

Home users also can still purchase Office 2016 for a flat fee of $149.99 at the time this article was published. It can be installed on 1 PC or Mac, and it comes with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.

 

Like the $99.99 home user plan, the business plans allow up to five Windows or Mac computers to have applications installed under one account. Office 365 Business is almost identical to the $99.99 plan. It adds the professional version of Sway, however, an application that allows you to create engaging, interactive web-based reports, presentations, newsletters, trainings. The professional version has features that the free online version does not. Business Premium adds to these 50 GB of email storage and the ability to host online meetings in High Definition. Premium starts at $12.50 per month per user, while Business begins at $8.25 per month per user.

 

Microsoft also has two business-level products for a one-time charge. Office Home & Business 2016 for Windows or Mac (separate products) has everything that Office 2016 for home users, but add Outlook. It costs $229.99. Office Professional 2016 is for Windows only. It adds Access and Publisher to Home and Business. It costs $399.99.

 

These require Windows 7 Service Pack 1 or later. The Mac version can run on 10.10 or later.

 

Microsoft doesn’t put a price tag on Office for every platform. The online version and versions for Android and iOS devices are free. You can sign up for a Microsoft account, without paying for 365, and use the online and mobile applications for free. Both have a lot less features than their desktop counterparts. The mobile apps have a few extra features, such as tracking and accepting changes, if you are a 365 subscriber.

 

The table below lists the different applications and what platforms they run on.

 

 

Application

Windows (7 SP1 or later)

Mac (10.10 or later)

Android (Google Play)

iOS

Online

Word

x

x

x

x

x

Excel

x

x

x

x

x

PowerPoint

x

x

x

x

x

Outlook

x

x

x

x

x

OneNote

x

x

x

x

x

Publisher

x

 

 

 

 

Access

x

 

 

 

 

OneDrive

x

x

x

x

x

 

LibreOffice

 

The open-source office suite was launched in 2011. It was based on the source code of OpenOffice.org 3.3 because several key stakeholders of OpenOffice didn’t like the direction the parent company, Oracle, was taking the office suite, and there was fear that Oracle was going to drop the office suite. Oracle eventually donated it to the Apache Foundation.

 

In 2010, the Document Foundation, the host organization of LibreOffice, was formed, and a year later LibreOffice 3.3 was launched. It has the same applications that OpenOffice has:

        Writer

        Calc

        Impress

        Draw

        Base

        Math

LibreOffice is the default office suite on most Linux distros, such as Ubuntu and its derivatives. The suite is also available on Microsoft Windows XP through 10 and Mac OSX 10.8 and later. There are also installs available for older versions of Mac OSX, Solaris, and BSD.

 

Unlike Microsoft Office, it makes all of its applications, with all of their features available on all of the operating systems it can be installed on. It also has a version that runs on Windows XP through 10 that does not need to be installed. It can be run from external storage, such as a USB drive.

 

At the time this article was published, The Document Foundation has not yet broken into mobile devices, like Microsoft has (it does have a document viewer for Impress in the Google Play store). There are no official versions for iOS, Android, or Kindle Fire, but several third parties have made versions for these platforms.

 

With version 5.1, there is a Remote Files feature that allows you to connect to several CMIS services such as FTP servers, Google Drive, SharePoint, and others.

 

With version 5.2, code for the online version was released, so it can be installed on a server and used within an organization. This means that users can now collaborate in real time with LibreOffice. This aspect of the suite has been far behind Microsoft Office, which first launched its online version of its application in 2008 and has allowed real-time coauthoring since 2013.

 

The Document Foundation published a Web page comparing the latest versions of LibreOffice and Microsoft Office and their applications.

 

Google Drive

 

Through Google Drive, users have access to the five applications:

        Docs

        Sheets

        Slides

        Drawings

        Forms

Anyone with a Gmail account has a free office suite (Google also allows you to establish an account with other types of email). The applications are accessed through Web browsers. Google’s support site states that the Google Drive is supported on Windows Explorer and Edge, Apple Safari, Chrome, and Firefox. For the most part they run equally well on these. However, there are a few extra features available in Chrome, such as speech to text.

 

Docs, Sheets, and Slides maintain their individual document management systems that only display documents from Drive that they can open and edit. Apps for the three and Drive are also available on iOS and Android devices. Any updates to a document made on the mobile applications, if they are connected to the Internet, will be seen when the user returns to his computer and logs into his account and vis versa.

 

The applications create documents in proprietary Google formats (gdoc for Docs, gsheets for Sheets, and gslides for Slides), and they will convert other formats – Microsoft Office, ODF, and others – to those formats when they are first opened. They can export documents to other formats that can be opened and edited by Microsoft Office and LibreOffice.

 

The applications do not have all the features that the corresponding Microsoft and LibreOffice applications have, but they can perform most, if not all functions, that business users need. They excel over the desktop competitors in real-time collaboration. Because the documents are hosted on Web servers and accessed through a Web browser, users can work on the same document at the same time.

The search engine giant entered the office application market about 12 years ago.  In 2005, it acquired Upstartle Writely, a Web based word processor that can be accessed through a Web browser on any computer. About the same time, Google had been working on a browser-based spreadsheet application, Sheets was released to the public in March 2006. Doc was released for public use a few months later.

 

The third component, Slides, the presentation application was released in September 2007. Other applications – Drawings and Forms – were added to the collection several years after that. There are numerous other applications that can be linked to your Google Drive account through the Apps Library that is accessed through settings.

 

Since then the applications have been further developed and integrated with Google Drive, when it was released in 2012 the central document management system.

 

Conclusion

With at least a decade of experience, each of the three office suites have the applications and features that meet most users need. A word processor, spreadsheet, and a presentation are the core applications of most office suites. The three have these and more. Each one has strengths that the other two do not have. The coming articles in this blog will compare the three, though most of them will only compare Microsoft Office and LibreOffice.

 


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