FreeOffice vs LibreOffice – Differences + Alternatives

LibreOffice and FreeOffice are both free office suites, unlike Microsoft Office. Both software programs are compatible with Office formats. Despite having a significant similarity, there are distinct differences between the two office suites.

LibreOffice, for example, is a complete and free office suite, unlike FreeOffice, which requires users to purchase SoftMaker Office to enjoy the suite’s full version.  

FreeOffice may not be as costly as the Microsoft Office suite, but requiring its users to pay to access to the full suite is a great disadvantage. Compared to LibreOffice, FreeOffice is a lighter and faster program. It is more compatible with Office documents. That aside, LibreOffice is capable of making users forget Microsoft Office entirely.

With LibreOffice, you don’t have to pay for a higher edition. Moreover, it is the most reliable option to Microsoft Office.

What is FreeOffice?

FreeOffice is an office suite with word processing, spreadsheet and software for presentation. This suite is in tune with Microsoft Office. It is also available and functional for Windows, Linux, and Mac. Unlike Microsoft Office, FreeOffice is free (although copyrighted) for personal and business use.

Users can open and save documents in formats similar to Microsoft files. You can save your documents as DOCX, XLSX and PPTX. There is no need to export files before sharing them with Microsoft Office users. Another notable aspect is the switchable user interface. Choose between modern ribbons and classic menus and toolbars.

When using computers with a touchscreen, you can switch to touch mode with larger icons and increased spacing between elements.  

Features of FreeOffice include:

  • The FreeOffice TextMaker
  • The FreeOffice PlanMaker
  • The FreeOffice Presentations

To get more features, users need to pay for SoftMaker, an upgraded version of FreeOffice.

What is LibreOffice?

LibreOffice is an open-source software. Users don’t need to pay for it to enjoy its full features. Every update comes with new improvements. LibreOffice operates perfectly on Linux, Windows, and Mac operating systems. Anyone using the software doesn’t require internet connectivity. It is excellent for personal, and business use since users don’t worry about it becoming obsolete and unsupported.

LibreOffice comes with tools needed to create documents, spreadsheets and presentations. There is also a LibreOffice Online version, although it doesn’t come with a storage space system. Communication and collaboration tools are also lacking with this software.

The main features of LibreOffice include:

  • Writer
  • Calc
  • Impress
  • Draw
  • Base
  • Math
  • Charts
  • Extensions

The interface resembles old Microsoft Office versions. It is simple to use, although some functions are hidden under sub-menus. Users need to click more to get the results they want.

FreeOffice vs LibreOffice – Differences

FreeOffice and LibreOffice have several differences. One of the major ones is that users get full access to the features of LibreOffice without having to spend a dime. FreeOffice is free, but you have to upgrade to SoftMaker to enjoy more features. Inarguably, the features on offer are good enough for most people, but others prefer the various options.

Differences between these office suites border on the size, features available and compatibility with Microsoft Office. Here’s a breakdown of major differences between LibreOffice and FreeOffice:

Compatibility with Microsoft Office documents

Unlike LibreOffice, FreeOffice is great for opening and saving documents in different versions such as DOCX, XLSX, and PPTX. This feature makes it fully compatible with Microsoft Office documents. The FreeOffice suite opens documents without changing or destroying the format and layout.

Although LibreOffice is compatible with Microsoft Office, some aspects are not 100% effective. An example is when opening a DOCX document. The suite doesn’t respect the format and changes and destroys the layout. In this case, FreeOffice becomes a better alternative to Microsoft Office.  

Speed and size

LibreOffice is high in consumption of resources. The suite’s database admin runs on Java, making it larger than necessary. On the other hand, FreeOffice is lighter, and consumption is considerably low. This low consumption is because FreeOffice is a reduced version.

The size of the FreeOffice suite allows it to run much faster. It also takes up less space on your hard drive, unlike LibreOffice. Users prefer Microsoft Office because of its speed and low use of space. That makes FreeOffice a great alternative.

Availability on android

FreeOffice has a downloadable android version, on top of the compatibility on Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems. Users can access the suite using their smartphones unlike LibreOffice, which has not ventured into mobile operating systems.

That gives FreeOffice an upper hand over LibreOffice and a closer option to Microsoft office. However, LibreOffice is available for any desktop operating system.

Access to users

In addition to being free, LibreOffice is open-source. Users have unlimited and free access, unlike with FreeOffice, which is proprietary. Its license is copyrighted, and the suite requires all users to register their email to gain access.

On top of that, FreeOffice has a premium version, SoftMaker with better and more improved features. If you require more features than the basic TextMaker, PlanMaker and Presentations, you’ll have to purchase the SoftMaker version similar to Microsoft Office.  

Feature limitations

FreeOffice has a limited version, unlike LibreOffice, which has numerous features and options for users. You can perform different functions for text, spreadsheets, and presentations.

Although LibreOffice functions below Office, the availability of those functions sets it apart from FreeOffice, which limits use on its free version. Most users find the few options satisfactory, but others prefer having various options like those on Microsoft Word.   

Here’s a recap of their differences:

It’s highly compatible with Office documentsIt has limitations when opening documents
It’s lighter and fasterIt occupies more space and is slower
It’s available on androidIt lacks a downloadable app option
It has feature limitations on the free versionIt has a lot of free and accessible features
It’s free, but the license is proprietaryIt’s completely free and open source

Unless you want access to extra features on the FreeOffice Suite, the standard version is free, similar to the LibreOffice suite. This similarity makes them stand out from Microsoft Office and makes them better alternatives.

Best alternatives to FreeOffice and LibreOffice

LibreOffice and FreeOffice are great options. However, if you do not care for Microsoft Office and these two suites, other options are available. They all have unique features and are attractive competitors. They are brilliant options for personal and business use. Some are free, while others charge a fee before you can use them. They include:

WPS Office

This office suite is available for Windows, Linux, Android and iOS. It also supports multiple languages. Users can access the suite via the free or premium version. The premium tier allows you to connect nine devices and is free of adverts. With the free version, you can access these features:

  • Writer
  • Presentations
  • Spreadsheets

WPS Office is very similar to Microsoft Office, but it has a slower interface. Android users also complain about its large size.

Microsoft Office Online version

The online version is Microsoft Office is similar to the desktop app in terms of features. The best part about it is that it’s free. Everything you do on the web version is saved online therefore you can access the files from anywhere. Besides, you can share and collaborate on projects with anyone on this online version.

However, there a few downfalls:

  • Files must exist in OneDrive before use
  • No spell-check functions for Excel and PowerPoint
  • 2GB is the maximum file size supported

SoftMaker Office

SoftMaker is a more affordable suite similar to Microsoft 365. It supports desktop apps for Linux, Windows and Mac operating systems. SoftMaker is powerful and elegant with speedy and reliable performance compared to other office suites.

It is not free and goes for around $80 per year. The downside of this suite is that it lags when opening huge worksheets, lacks collaborative features and has limited options for viewing documents.

Pros include:

  • A highly customizable ribbon and menu-based interface
  • Ability to open legacy documents that Microsoft Office applications cannot


OpenOffice is like a free version of Microsoft Office. You can use all its features for free, and it is open source, which makes it even better. This office suite reads and writes Office files perfectly.

Primary applications are compatible with Office. It has a word processor, spreadsheets and a slide-show creator.

However, OpenOffice has the following drawbacks:

  • It lacks collaboration tools
  • Does not have cloud support

These drawbacks make it a less attractive software compared to LibreOffice.        


This office suite is open source. Users enjoy the free version, ‘Community Edition,’ perfect for small businesses. The suite allows up to twenty connections at once. OnlyOffice offers collaborative features such as a calendar to help users keep in touch with work-related tasks.

Users can also:

  • Create mailboxes with the Mail tool
  • Collaborate on projects
  • Make comments on files when necessary


Jessica Elliot, The Blueprint A Motley Fool Service: LibreOffice Review

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *