NOTE: Since I first published this article a new version of Libre Office has been released. Version 5. I just downloaded it and installed it. The install process is the same as the previous version. If you had installed version 4.4 before you do not have to uninstall it first. First impressions of the updated version are very positive. It opens in about half the time and so far I have had no problems. Click Here to go directly to the download page for the current version of Libre Office.
Microsoft is planning the release of the next version of their office suite for 2016. There plan is to lock you into a monthly payment that is similar to what the cable companies do. Most people use less then 10 percent of the features in Microsoft office. This post is not about basing Microsoft for the software that they make. Of course they could make it better but this post is not about that either. This is about showing you that there is options out there. You can do the same things that you do with Microsoft Office with Open Source software and you can do it for little or no cost. You will have most of the features that are in the the paid suites and you will be able to break free from the cost of doing business with a company that has enjoyed taking your money with little viable competition.
Libre Office is a fork of Open Office. Even though Open Office is an Open Source piece of software the code is actually owned by Oracle. Libre Office is being developed by the people that used to develop Open Office. Soon after Oracle bought Sun Microsystems the Open Office team decided to start their own open source office suite. While Open Office and Libre Office will work as a suitable alternative to Microsoft office. We recommend Libre Office due to it having no ties to any large corporation.
Libre Office is freely available and can be downloaded here. http://www.libreoffice.org/ Just click on the Download Now button and it will take you to the download page. It is a 220 MB download and if you are on a broad band connection it will not take too long to download. Once the file has finished downloading run the install file. You do not have to uninstall Microsoft Office if you have it installed or any other productivity software. It can be installed and run at the same time. So it you are just wanting to try it out first there is no problem with that. We actually recommend that. Although we are pretty confident that you will really like libre office once you start to use it.
During the install process Libre Office will ask you a few questions.
For most people selecting the Typical set up is recommended
With the custom set up you can select different languages and plugins. For most people this is not needed and will just add files that will clutter you computer up that you will never use.
Select which preference you would like for Desktop Icon and start up. I like desktop Icons for some programs so I leave this one checked. Unless you are going to use Libre Office right when you start the computer every time I would say leave that box unchecked. Checking it will make Libre Office start up faster but will then use up resources even when you are not using it.
The time that it takes for Libre Office to install will depend on the speed of the computer that you are installing it on. When the install has completed click finish on the notification box. You now have Libre Office installed and are ready to start trying it out.
Find the Libre Office on your desktop and Double click it to start the program.
Select which program you want to work in by clicking on it in the left window. If you don’t like the dashboard you can still open a program by clicking on start and opening it from the start menu. If you have Windows 8 you can add a tile to the Windows 8 Start Screen.
In the coming weeks we will be posting comparisons for the various programs and how they stack up against their Microsoft Office counter part. If you install Libre Office or have an alternative open source office suite you are already using let us know how it is going in the comments.