LibreOffice has long since moved on from being an offshoot of the OpenOffice project. It's now the go-to alternative to Microsoft Office, enjoying regular development and a constant tweaking to keep it up to date, stable and secure.
While LibreOffice lacks the slick presentation of rival Windows freebie Kingsoft Office Suite Free and its Office-inspired ribbon interface, it has the major advantage of offering a full set of office applications, including database, drawing package and mathematical tool on top of the requisite word processor, spreadsheet and presentation tool found in most free office suites.
Version 5 makes much of its user-interface improvements, but while it’s definitely more navigable than before thanks to better placement of tools and visual previews of styles direct from the main toolbar, it still looks a little dated, despite the refreshed icon sets. Nevertheless, this is still a powerful suite capable of meeting most people's needs, making this zero-cost alternative to Office a valuable tool to have in your armoury.
Ever-improving support for third-party file types (including both new and classic Office formats) means you're not cutting yourself off from industry standards while cross-platform support means you can run LibreOffice on Windows, Mac or Linux without having to retrain yourself to a new way of working each time.
Version 5 introduces a dedicated 64-bit build for Windows, and promises full compatibility with Windows 10.
What else is new in LibreOffice 5.1 (see changelog for more info)?
- LibreOffice just got faster. Much faster. Reduced startup time and overall speed on Windows and the other platforms have been baked in LibreOffice 5
- User Experience comes first. New and simplified application menus, improved controls on charts and diagrams.
- Powerful graphics, beautiful transitions. Deeper integration of OpenGL and a revisited set of menus and options for Impress improve the user experience on Impress and offer better slide transitions out of the box.
- Trapped by closed formats? We can help. Support for Apple Keynote 6 presentations slides, Gnumeric, VBA macro streams back into MS OOXML as well as the ability to save files on remote locations such as cloud storage providers.
- Versatile spreadsheets, broad outcomes. A number of features have been added inside LibreOffice 5.1 Calc, such as statistics regressions - linear, logarithmic and power - with a new dialog window to calculate them; powerful search of formatted display strings, improvements in menus, compatibility with MS OOXML and new mathematical functions.