back to article Open source 'Office' options keep Microsoft running faster than ever

Fresh versions of three of the bigger open-source application suites just landed for those seeking to break free from proprietary office apps. LibreOffice is the highest profile of them, and the project recently put out version 7.3.4, the latest release in the Community version of the suite. The Document Foundation maintains …

  1. ShadowSystems

    Office schmoffice...

    Real typists use Copy Con. =-)p plbplbplblblblblbbbbbbb...

    1. badflorist Silver badge

      Re: Office schmoffice...

      Real typists use Voice-To-Text because they have arthritis.

      1. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

        Re: Office schmoffice...

        Maybe that works if you speak Network Standard US English (their equivalent of the now forgotten trad BBC English). But not in the Rest Of The World.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Office schmoffice...

          There can be a few issues, I'm reading your comments while in a lift in Burnistoun, Scotland and I can't get the doors to open or the voice recognition to take me up to floor elefen ... your comment is helpful, I've just tried network standard English (eleven) and it's going up now....

    2. Herring`

      Re: Office schmoffice...

      PIP LPT:=CON:

    3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Office schmoffice...

      troff | lpr

  2. aerogems Silver badge

    Options are always good

    I have yet to find anything that's actually better than Office, for all of its flaws, except maybe specific use-cases, but it's always nice to know that there are other options if I ever want/need to use them for whatever reason.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Options are always good

      I think that's a function of the environment you work in. We banned Microsoft and Adobe products quite a while back (let's just say we didn't like what Wireshark showed us) and have been perfectly fine since. From what I have seen elsewhere I think the last decent version of Office was 2006 at least as far as UI is concerned.

      It's not so much the money saved, it's the higher levels of security we thus enjoy by default, and fewer, far less interrupting updates. It means we control our infrastructure instead of a third party, but I'm the first to admit that that is not exactly a luxury that everyone can enjoy. There's also the fact that LibreOffice updates and improvements tend to leave the UX alone which saves a lot of learning time - here too, the impact of an update is far lower on productivity.

      I hope we can keep it this way.

      1. JimboSmith Silver badge

        Re: Options are always good

        My mother uses Libre Office on her Fruity Airtop quite happily. However my sister when she visited her for the weekend had a problem. She uses Word at work and opened one of her documents on mum's Airtop. She said she couldn't use Libre Office as the formatting wasn't exactly the same and needed to be so for her work. Also issues once formatting corrected on Airtop but saved and reopened at work on Word.

        She has resorted to taking her own laptop down there when she goes to see our parents.

        When a mate of mine who is a lawyer visited me we had the same problem. She asked to borrow my laptop as she had to do something urgently. She asked what weird version of Windows I had when Mint booted up. Then asked where my copy of Office was and was unhappy with the reply.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Options are always good

          "She said she couldn't use Libre Office as the formatting wasn't exactly the same and needed to be so for her work. Also issues once formatting corrected on Airtop but saved and reopened at work on Word."

          I take it that what she means be that is that the layout, pagination etc. isn't exactly the same. So if the plan is to take it back to the office and open it on Word just ignore the differences whilst you're using LibreOffice.

          In any case don't try to keep the layout just so whilst you're creating the document - a character change on the first page can, if you're unlucky, cascade a long way through the document changing pagination. From past experience I wouldn't trust a different version of Word on different H/W to repeat formatting exactly. Exact formatting should be the last thing you do to a document before you save it as a PDF.

          I take it she was using styles? Tabs instead of spaces? Flowing text round images instead of relying on spaces and/or tabs? Tables instead of spaces and/or tabs? It's surprising what I've found Word users doing to "format" their work.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Options are always good

            It's surprising what I've found Word users doing to "format" their work.

            Maybe that's why our use of LibreOffice instead of Microsoft Office has been so successful:

            1 - our focus is on contents, not styling. If we want styling we get a designer to help, that's why we have them (who, by the way, took a while to get going for Affinity products but are now actually quite happy with them);

            2 - we don't have super complex spreadsheets because that will hamper our audit processes;

            3 - we give every member of staff a mini course in the use of styles and templates..

            That last one does add some time to initial staff training and there's talk of turning it into an educational video, but we found that coaching people in the use of styles and templates tends to result in far better documents.

            First of all, as said earlier, it helps to get people to focus on structure and contents and worry about the pretty stuff later (IMHO one of the major flaws of MS Office is that it seems to prioritise looks and fiddling with the controls over contents, something most evident in Powerpoint), secondly, when it's time to lay out the contents it's done so consistently and a LOT faster than when done all manually.

            This, by the way, would also help especially Word users.

          2. JimboSmith Silver badge

            Re: Options are always good

            I have no idea what the actual issue was I heard this from my mum. However I do know she is sent very long documents that have specific formatting requirements. If you can’t add bits and save so it’s exactly the same for the next person to open it she can’t use the program.

            1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

              Re: Options are always good

              It's not neccessarily things like styles and formatting, my biggest bugbear is that different versions of Word treat page layout differently. A programatically-generated document with (eg) 78 lines of text per page that looks fine on WordXX breaks on Word XX+0.1 with some internal rounding going the opposite way somewhere and the 78th line in every column bumping over into the next column, running all the way through the document, so you end up with the last lines on page Q across the top of page Q+1.

              I'd bet it was some internal inches vs millimetres thing.

              1. david 12 Silver badge

                Re: Options are always good

                A problem is that, unlike inches and mm, there is no standard for point size at all. Yes, 20 point is twice as big as 10 point, but how big is a point? There are some commonly used conventions, but that's all.

          3. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

            Re: as the formatting wasn't exactly the same and needed to be so for her work

            Word might be fine if you're using the same version every time, but YMMV with different versions. I had a customer who had a massive inventory of teaching materials for off-campus education. Every document had proper document controls on it, which meant minor amendments could be posted out with just the changed pages. When they moved to a different version they had to ship out materials in their entirety because of font creep.

            Not relevant so much now if everything is in pdf, but things like Table of Contents and Indexes would need to be carefully reviewed. Now if this conversation was about WordPerfect, well, there would be no issue: in my experience this had really good carry-over from version to version. Changing your printer might cause an issue however.

        2. keithpeter Silver badge
          Windows

          Re: Options are always good

          @JimboSmith

          options...

          One of my employers uses Office 365/Outlook/Sharepoint/Teams and all which works fine from Firefox/Debian stable. I quite like the workflow including use of the online documents storage - nothing work related on my client machine(s) and they take responsibility for security of data.

          I think the transition to Web apps is encouraging my fellow toilers to basically produce simpler layouts - less of that adding a new table inside a table cell thing that MS Office people seem to like doing. Fingers crossed.

          Another employer provides RDP access to an actual Windows desktop with Office and all. Fine on a good internet connection - perhaps one for relatives to ask about?

        3. eionmac

          Re: Options are always good

          I always get folk borrowing my laptop (uses LibreOffice.com) to type ONLY in pure text with a paragraph spacer, or a line spacer between paragraphs (Bold, Italic, hyphen, underline) only.

          Then they can email to office.

          Then open in MS Word save as transmitted and also under a different name (remember different versions of MS.Word do not automatically give same MS Word format) then do finish formatting and re-save under a new name. Keeping pure text and new formatted versions.

          This i show I did docs for a MS Only office from home using LO.o for many years

        4. Havin_it

          Re: Options are always good

          Maybe O/T but I'd say

          (a) Don't be on-call for work responsibilities when visiting your family

          (b) If you've no choice, then a work-blessed device should be made available to cover your needs in that regard.

      2. aerogems Silver badge

        Re: Options are always good

        I actually like the ribbon UI. It's a much more efficient use of space that allows significantly more features to be exposed without the need for multiple levels of dialog boxes. It took a little effort to relearn some things, but after that it's actually quite a bit faster than hunting through dialog boxes for a specific feature.

        And I get people's gripes about the forced reboots on Windows, but it's the least bad alternative. Remember when Microsoft allowed regular users to make all updates optional and viruses, worms, and whatnot ran rampant for months? You don't see that as much anymore because people are forced to update. In a perfect world everyone would check for and install security updates regularly, but we've seen upteen million times over the years that we don't live in that world.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Options are always good

          In a non-Microsoft environment, the company gets to choose when to update, and won't have to do it so often that a substantial chunk of network capacity is used merely to keep up with the GB flow of updates.

          I also take extreme issue with Microsoft highjacking the shutdown for installs instead of startup, which is a very American thing to do because then it doesn't take away precious office time but moves it into the user's personal time who now has to wait for this crap to finish. That alone seems to make people wake up during 'welcome' training for our company because most never realised this until we pointed it out. That is acceptable if it only happens once a month or so, but then you would not be using Microsoft..

          1. keithpeter Silver badge
            Joke

            Re: Options are always good

            [...] moves it into the user's personal time who now has to wait for this crap to finish.

            Good joke (see icon).

            Press and hold power switch for about 5 seconds then sort out the mess next morning.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Options are always good

              Don't let the users know that!

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Options are always good

                The problem is that amounts to an uncontrolled shutdown, and that means more work the next day. And that's a simple example - I've seen updates to 21H2 in a company that took hours to complete. It explains why Microsoft carefully avoids incorporating staff time in its Total Cost of Ownership calculations..

              2. keithpeter Silver badge
                Childcatcher

                Re: Options are always good

                Who do you think showed me?

                This kind of information travels quickly in the work-related underground.

          2. david 12 Silver badge

            Re: Options are always good

            I only had a couple of dozen users, but even so I automated that shutdown and restart: users only have to log out. Why is your company making them shut down?

        2. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          Re: Options are always good

          I actually like the ribbon UI. It's a much more efficient use of space

          Really? An unexpected used of the word 'efficient'. But each to their own, I guess.

        3. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge

          Re: Options are always good

          The problem with the forced updates (and I'm inferring this from the screams that I hear rather than experience) is that it can't run in the background and then won't wait until it's convenient to reboot. Plus the old issue of needing a reboot for every damn tiny change.

          When I update my Void Linux system there are kernel modules that always need compiling. The CPU usage goes to 100% on all cores and I can still continue working. Afterwards I might have to close and reopen Firefox, the rest can wait.

          You're right about the utility of forcing the mundanes to update, it's just that the implementation is typical of MS.

        4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Options are always good

          "I actually like the ribbon UI. It's a much more efficient use of space that allows significantly more features to be exposed without the need for multiple levels of dialog boxes."

          There was some mention of master documents in an earlier thread. The poster said they were no longer there. Is that the case or are they lurking within the ribbon?

          " the forced reboots on Windows, but it's the least bad alternative."

          Actually, it isn't. The a far less bad - better, even - is not to require so many reboots. If you can swap a kernel in place so much the better, otherwise only require a reboot for a new kernel and even then let that happen at the user's discretion.

        5. Dunstan Vavasour

          Re: Options are always good

          "I actually like the ribbon UI. It's a much more efficient use of space that allows significantly more features to be exposed without the need for multiple levels of dialog boxes."

          Most screens are much wider than they are high. So taking away a whole load of screen height for the ribbon, which cannot be moved to the side, is perverse.

          1. Tom 38 Silver badge

            Re: Options are always good

            Wife: Why do you have so many screens? Why is that one "upside down"?

            Me: It helps when reading documents. Do you want one like that when I build your home office?

            Wife: No, just my laptop and a mouse

            Me: ... its no problem, I've got a spare monitor, and a spare monitor arm...

            Wife: Monitors have arms?

            A few months have passed. Her home office has a second screen

            Wife: Its horrible when I have to go in to the office, they don't have extra monitors!

            Wife: Is there any way I can have another screen?

        6. EricPodeOfCroydon

          Re: Options are always good

          I could get behind the ribbon a lot more if MS would allow it to be positioned at the side. Having it stuck across the top of a wide-screen monitor, restricting vertical space, is just annoying.

    2. VoiceOfTruth Silver badge

      Re: Options are always good

      I recently tried a Microsoft 365 on a Mac for personal use. I had high hopes. I wanted it for three things: Word, Outlook, and the 1TB of OneDrive space. That third feature makes it a very reasonable deal. I would have occasionally used Excel and almost never Powerpoint.

      Word was not bad, but it was also not as good as I had hoped for. I'm working on a document at the moment in LibreOffice which is now 99 pages long and growing. I opened it in Word and converted it to Word native format and start doing things, like typing or applying styles or searching - completely normal things, I saw the spinning beach ball rather a lot. I still don't understand why. There is no lag at all with the same document in LibreOffice. It's not some weird document. It has about 19,000 words and about 3 fonts. Is this some sort of cloud thing going on? It shouldn't be - the document is saved locally, not in the OneDrive folder. Suffice to say that seeing a spinning beach ball when typing is not a good thing.

      Outlook, well I don't know what is going on here. Actually I do because I know quite a lot about email. Firstly, when you set up an IMAP account you can't add the name of the person, only the email address. You have to add the account, then immediately go and add some more settings. Bizarrely Outlook on Android gives the option to set up the name of the person when you add the account. Second, I referred to this in a post the other day, that MS Cloud access is by default toggled on when you add an IMAP account in Outlook. This means your login details for that account are passed to Microsoft. Of all the things that says a great big "NO" to me in 12 inch letters, it is this. You can untoggle this toggle. But that leads to a problem which is inexplicable to me. Server side search can only be done on a per folder basis - not the whole account. If you search the whole account and include subfolders you get zero results. Microsoft confirmed to me that server side searching only works if you enable Cloud access. Hmmm. I don't like the idea of that. It seems to me that IMAP is very much a work in progress in Outlook, and that progress is not very good.

      The OneDrive space worked well enough. But two out of three not working really well, and including a giant security hole, is not my cup of tea. I had high hopes, after all isn't MS Office meant to be the best? It was frankly a bit of a let down. It's worth it at the moment due to the 1TB of space. But on it's own it's less of a good deal.

      1. aerogems Silver badge

        Re: Options are always good

        Yes, the Mac version is definitely lackluster compared to it's Windows sibling. If you can get used to the UI of Apple's free offerings, they're definitely better on the Mac as long as you don't need some obscure feature. I'd love to be able to use Numbers at work, just for the performance boost, but I make heavy use of the remove duplicates feature (like a few dozen times every day) of Excel which basically no other spreadsheet app has. Not Numbers, not LibreOffice... Looks like Google Sheets can have an optional add-on installed to do it, but Google Sheets is a no-go for my workplace. Not sure if Quattro Pro is even still being developed, so maybe it has it, but I don't have a license to use it at work...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Options are always good

        Well, if you really want to let Microsoft have a look at everything you do, then I guess giving you 1TB of storage cheaply is a good deal mainly for them, but there's something else interesting about LibreOffice on Mac if you use it on an M1: it's one of the fastest starting programs out there.

        I have no idea what they did because I can't find any evidence of preloading like Microsoft once did to make it look like Word was loading faster, but it's *very* quick to load. I must check later but I think even the Linux box I have doesn't load LibreOffice this quickly, which is impressive.

        Now if they could only finally integrate the Mac's approach to accented characters (hold down the character and get a menu of options) instead of the clunky mechanism they have right now and things would be perfect - only NeoOffice does it right.

        1. VoiceOfTruth Silver badge

          Re: Options are always good

          -> if you really want to let Microsoft have a look at everything you do, then I guess giving you 1TB of storage cheaply

          This I can handle. I can upload files directly to OneDrive after I have encrypted them. Anything I add to OneDrive that is not encrypted is not important and probably eventually for public consumption anyway.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Options are always good

            I have a few Cryptomator vaults in various places which make it very transparent, but I don't know if that would work on OneDrive as I don't use it.

      3. keithpeter Silver badge

        Re: Options are always good

        Roughly 200 words per page so either double spaced or a lot of pictures/tables/equations.

        I think it is the number of object thingies that slows things down.

        Good luck.

        1. VoiceOfTruth Silver badge

          Re: Options are always good

          It's a technical document, with many commands and output. The commands are typically short, mostly from 2 to 5 words. That is one line. The output is usually less than 8 words per line. It soon adds up. LibreOffice handles this very well. That was why I was surprised at the lag with Word.

          1. keithpeter Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: Options are always good

            So your document is essentially text(*) but with a lot of unusually short lines so my hypothesis totally bites the dust. Icon: Karl Popper approves.

            (*)I'm assuming that the REPL dialogue/code is not placed in floating text objects/frames. Also that you are using a named style to change font, indenting and justification &c for the code samples and not manually changing the font for each sample. I think these are safe assumptions given your presence here.

            1. VoiceOfTruth Silver badge

              Re: Options are always good

              You weren't really wrong. Not that I would waste so much space in a technical document, but if you did 'ls -l /etc' you would have one line for the command, and dozens of lines of output. Sometimes it is important to show all the output so that nothing is missed.

              There's one frame for one picture in the whole document so far, the rest is text. Sure, I use styles for everything.

    3. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Linux

      Re: Options are always good

      O...M...G

      I had the "pleasure" of using Word on a shared document on my last project. Let's just say that the advertised features are...somewhat oversold.

      Document was hundreds of pages long. Multiple users from multiple organisations in multiple countries

      on a Sharepoint server. Lots of typefaces, change tracking and numbered sections. Major edits. Tight schedule, which meant *everybody* was trying to get their changes in, around the clock (due to the multiple companies and multiple countries). Molasses. You would have needed a supercomputer and fiber cables to make any progress. Just glacial response time.

      Now, I realise that this was asking a lot from the software and the infrastructure. But the bottom line is that simultaneous shared editing of any document of significant size is a non-starter. And my gut says that any number of simultaneous users over...let's say...3-5, is asking for trouble, no matter how small the document is.

      As for Libre Office, it appears to be coming along quite nicely. It has definitely improved since I tried it a couple of years ago. Specifically, the "typesetting" features: spacing, page layout and character font cutomisation seem better and more consistent. I haven't done exhaustive testing, but it seems more polished and less prone to random "disruptions" to the text.

      Which is good, as I transition into retirement without Windows.

      1. Tom 38 Silver badge

        Re: Options are always good

        Now, I realise that this was asking a lot from the software and the infrastructure. But the bottom line is that simultaneous shared editing of any document of significant size is a non-starter. And my gut says that any number of simultaneous users over...let's say...3-5, is asking for trouble, no matter how small the document is.

        Which is weird, because this sort of thing works just fine in Google Docs. Obviously, if people are editing the same part of the document as other people, that can be difficult, but 20 people each working in their own section of the doc? No problem.

      2. lockt-in

        Re: Options are always good

        I just saw your comment from several months ago, I believe Collabora Online would do a better job. It is open source and runs "Libreoffice Technology", Collabora are a major contributor to LibreOffice, I believe their revenue comes from people who want to support them and pay for support services. They have Collabora Online Development Edition that can be used for free, and is available loads of ways.

    4. John 110

      Re: Options are always good

      @aerogems

      Anything's better than Office (i assume you meant MS Office) if you don't have the cash lying about to buy/rent a fully licensed copy of MS Office.

    5. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Options are always good

      Interesting. I have yet to find any end-user software I hate more than Office, which as far as I can tell (and I've been using parts of it, such as Word, since before there even was an Office) invariably does everything poorly.

      Even Teams has not yet managed to annoy me as much as Office does.

  3. v13

    The only thing that keeps Microsoft running is Google Docs. I have never seen a company using an opensource office tool, and having tried myself multiple times I always find that things aren't ready for prime time. And all of that is normal because it's a big undertaking to make a polished opensource office software that works on multiple operating systems without it being a cloud product.

    1. Paul Uszak

      "I have never seen a company using an opensource office tool"

      That's right. There aren't any unless they're mom and daughter sandwich shops. Imagine appealing a High Court ruling with LibreOffice. Imagine tendering for a new hospital build with LibreOffice. Imagine sending a piece to Vogue with LibreOffice. No, no, no.

      The reason no one uses LibreOffice is that no one of stature uses LibreOffice. Why else do we teach our school children to use MS products?

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: "I have never seen a company using an opensource office tool"

        I haven't sent anyone outside the office (which, alas, is deeply into Microsoft software) a Word document in, oh, a decade or so. Everyone I've dealt with will take a PDF.

        The last time I had to send someone a Word document, it was for an academic article in the humanities, and that was the last time I published in the academic humanities. The sciences will accept PDF and LaTeX; when the humanities journals and book publishers grow up, I'll consider submitting to them again.

      2. lockt-in

        Re: "I have never seen a company using an opensource office tool"

        I worked at a company that had ~400 installations of LibreOffice in regular use, it worked exceptionally well.

  4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    One thing which is missing is bundling in a really good "mail"/diary combination.

    I put "mail" in quotes because what's really needed is an updated notion of that part of Netscape Communicator which was never just about mail. It lives on in Thunderbird, Seamonkey, Sylpheed and Interlink (and maybe other forks). However none, so far as I know, has got beyond mail, RSS reader and newsgroups with maybe IRC as an extension.

    What's really needed is something more open ended so that new protocols or services can be added. When it looked like Thunderbird was going to be orphaned there was some sort of push in LibreOffice circles to adopt it but TPTB thought they should remain neutral - an opportunity missed.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I tried getting Vivaldi's mail client to work but for some reason it fails authentication, no matter what I do. Frustrating because I really want to test it :(.

      I think I'll set up an account with less complex passwords, just in case there's a character that trips it.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        I had a lot of trouble with that. The address boxes in the setup dialog only show a limited number of characters. I had failures of DNS which may have been pasting an extra space on the end of the server address which is difficult to spot if you can't immediately see the entire string. Having that sorted out I got SSL protocol errors. Then, for no apparent reason it worked. But I couldn't see how to set up custom folders. At that point, given that it wasn't going to provide newsgroups, I gave up.

        But it sounds as if you actually have tested it. It failed.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I set up a test account with a purely alphanumeric password and that worked immediately, so I suspect it's bad input escaping in play here. The email client is interesting but feels early stage, but that's only first looks. If, however, it manages to integrate carddav and caldav into it all (and signs are it does) it has potential.

          To be continued :).

    2. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      [Author here]

      Claws is a fork of Sylpheed.

      Both are totally unrelated to Thunderbird, TTBOMK.

      In terms of office suites: well, I do know what you mean. In Linux-land, it seems that what could loosely be called groupware is seen as a function of the desktop, not of the office suite.

      There are several Linux office suites, as per the article; none include email, AFAIK. GNOME has Evolution, KDE has the KMail suite (Kontact, Akregator etc.) The other desktops mostly rely on Thunderbird.

      In my experience in recent years, a lot of people in both home and office life rely on webmail now, so maybe this is a legitimate decision.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        I stand corrected. Although Sylpheed looks superficially like the old T-bird type of interface it isn't a fork but Interlink is. Sylpheed claims to offer news but the version in the Debian repository doesn't offer it in account setup although the online manual suggests it does; so strike that one off the list.

        Given the extent to which people here beef about Outlook I guess there are plenty of people still using that client. However there's scope for a good deal of improvement in any client that I've seen. What's needed is to look beyond just message handling.

        Accumulated messages - in- and out-bound can represent a lot information with long term value. That applies to project work IME. Looking back to pre-email days, it would apply equally to case work. But that information is hidden away in a fairly unhelpful interface. No wonder we hear of people storing huge amounts of mail in their inbox or, even worse, their deleted folder.

        In a well-run traditional paper-based office documents including incoming mail and carbons of outgoing mail would be properly filed by a filing clerk with all sorts of other, related material. We ought to be able to do as well as that by automating the filing clerk.

        In practice if I'm working on a project I might have a desktop folder containing documents I've written, stuff I've researched from the web and material I've been emailed from collaborators. However if I want to read what was in those emails other than those saved attachments I've got to go scrabbling about in the email client's rudimentary filing system UI. I could copy it them out into a text document in the folder but then that has to be maintained as fresh emails are sent and received.

        What would really be useful would be to not only set up a folder structure in the email client but also to link the relevant folders into the desktop folder along with all the other material and be able to click on the email threads within them and get them presented in a similar way to comments here. And wouldn't it be useful to add a personal note against an email, one that's not going to be quoted in a reply or included if I forward the email to someone else?

        And, of course, what applies to email could also apply to any other form of communication the application could handle. We've only scratched the surface of what an "email" client could and should really do.

        1. Swarthy Silver badge

          I have been on the look out for a decent e-mail client for home, and have settled on geary, though I am still not entirely comfortable with it (delete is weird, and the whole UI just seems "off").

          I have also tried Vivaldi's e-mail client, and while not bad, it does feel uncomfortable and, yeah, new. It should benefit from a few revisions and updates. It is not helped by the fact that I use multiple windows (a window or two with tabs related to the task-at-hand for each workspace) and the e-mail can only be opened on one window - and I can never remember which one it is.

  5. Downeaster

    MS Office and Alternatives

    LibreOffice does a fairly good job for what it is. A free or low cost office suite. LibreOffice has been improving their translator quite a bit between MS Word and LibreOffice Writer. Other components of LibreOffice such as Calc or Impress (spreadsheets and slideshows) are also improving. Companies selling commercial versions of LibreOffice with support offer and alternative to Office. These companies also driving the larger percentage of the improvements in the LibreOffice code base. LibreOffcie is 'good enough" for many people and businesses. Compatibility with MS Office documents will not always be 100%. I support having LibreOffice as an alternative to Microsoft Office. I use it quite a bit and find for many things it works well. Softmaker Office from Germany is also a great office product. I have had excellent luck with it in opening Word files. It can save things as Microsoft file formats as a default. LibreOffice and Softmaker Office give you a choice between a ribbon interface and a traditional menu based one. I am not a big "ribbon" fan but know some people are. It is an age thing I guess being in my 50s. But I like having the choice of what I want to use. I can remember paying $150 for programs such as AppleWorks for the Apple II or around $100 for programs in the 1990s. Some programs were a lot more back then. Her we are $30 years later and I can download an operating system like a free version on Linux. Or free software like a pretty good office suite like LibreOffice. Seems amazing. Will this "free software" be good enough for business? In many ways yes like with LibreOffice. It will work probably 80% to 90% of the time. But that extra 10% to 20% of the time it won't or there is some "work" in getting a document to play in the world of Microsoft. I also like not having everything in the cloud of Microsoft or Google. Choice is good and LibreOffice helps to foster this choice.

    1. keithpeter Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: MS Office and Alternatives

      Softmaker Office: 64 bit only on Linux, compiled binaries for major distros, various SKUs at various prices.

      30 day preview available (Web site does not say which SKU the preview previews if you see what I mean).

      I love testing out 'seamless compatibility' with Microsoft Office claims.

      Nostalgia: Some SKUs allow you to pay one off for an actual non-time limited installer.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: MS Office and Alternatives

        I love testing out 'seamless compatibility' with Microsoft Office claims.

        We don't. We enjoy testing compatibility with the only government document standard: ODF. We have zero interest in compatibility - our suppliers know they don't have to spend money to be compatible with us.

        1. keithpeter Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: MS Office and Alternatives

          An upvote is insufficient. May your approach become universal.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: MS Office and Alternatives

            I just picked up news that the Board of our owners is actively looking at rolling out our approach to other companies in the group. That could get interesting, if only for the wailing of Microsoft reps :).

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: MS Office and Alternatives

          "...compatibility with the only government document standard: ODF."

          I do agree. And then I'm still surprised when I receive "creative" Word documents/ forms from US government/ regulatory/ defence departments. So please share what government we are talking about, I might consider emigration upon retirement... ;)

  6. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge

    Persistent blocker

    This is a second hand issue, because I'm not a big spreadsheet user, but I've heard more than one report that this prevents some people from adopting LibreOffice. (I've tried to find a reference on line, sure there was one, but I failed.)

    Excel apparently allows circular references, which gives the ability to loop like we do in text based languages, while LO doesn't. Some actually use that to good effect. Why would they do that with a spreadsheet rather than say Python? They can get what they need done with a tool that they already know well and move on, or learn some arcane (to them) new syntax. No brainer.

    Tickets requesting that the restriction be lifted have always been rejected with a recommendation to use a proper programming language. It's not the best idea to make policy for your users rather than tools.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Persistent blocker

      For many years I have found Excel/Word VBA makes useful macro assists as ad hoc data processing tools. It is now the only thing that stops me moving totally to Linux Mint. Currently I run W7 - plus a set of VirtualBox VMs for various Linux Mint uses.

  7. Randall Shimizu

    I Google Doc's for most things. I like Google Doc's because it is very easy to start and exit. No need to worry about saving. I use.Libre office for more complex documents occasionally. There needs to be a cloud version of Libre office

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      There needs to be a cloud version of Libre office

      There is.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        There's also File>Open Remote... to work with the local application on the cloudy document.

    2. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      The article was about 3 different suites, one of which *is* a cloud version of LibreOffice.

  8. Tams

    And they are still ugly as sin.

    I don't expect much for free nor need an office suite to look great, but they could at least *try*. LibreOffice are the worst, as even their website is bad. Why, yes, a lurid green with web 2.0 styling is just what I want. And to think this was a considered a good redesign just a couple of years ago.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. You don't say what you find objectionable about LO's layout but personally I find that it can use the same icon set (Oxygen) as almost every other application on the laptop, it's the one I've used for years and therefore it makes UIs that use it unobtrusive which is a desirable characteristic. I don't want an eye-rattling UI.

      Oddly enough I spend scarcely any time at the web site except when there's a new version to download.

      1. Tams

        That doesn't change that the UI is ugly and in some parts obtuse. And yes, no one goes to the website often, but I think it shows the lack of care for producing anything aesthetically pleasing in general.

        Anyway, I use MS Office because it offers the features I need that LibreOffice and the like don't or don't well. In particular Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, the latter of which frankly no open source program has yet to get even close too.

        It lloking nice is just icing on the cake. I don't know why so many have sticks up your arses about that though.

  9. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

    Mailmerge

    Aaargh!

    Nobody loves it, so there isn't a simple seamless link from a document to a local spreadsheet.

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