Which is better, Libreoffice or Microsoft Office for security and privacy?

I am wondering whether to use Libreoffice or Microsoft Office on a PC. Generally, Microsoft Office is used, but since it is provided by Microsoft, we are concerned about privacy. Libreoffice is open source, but I hear that it has less functionality and convenience than Microsoft Office. Which one is better? Please evaluate which is better in terms of functionality, convenience, security and privacy. Also, I heard that Libreoffice can encrypt PGP, but let me know how.

Please evaluate which is better in terms of functionality, convenience, security and privacy.

This largely depends on your personal threat model, your use cases, your country of residence and the actual version of LibreOffice/MS Office. There is no easy answer to this.

  1. Which functions do you need? Do you just write some letters? Do you need calculation sheets? Do you want to create presentations?
  2. In terms of privacy, data collection by MS could be allowed or illegal in your country. Newer versions of MS Office collect lots of information.
  3. In terms of security, both tools can be attacked, of course. It is important to install security updates ASAP and stay away from documents you don’t know.
  4. You can encrypt any file using GPG, but LibreOffice added their own GUI for this.
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  1. I need Word and Excel.

I don’t have specific knowledge of the privacy of Libre Office, but I’ll say the following:

  • It’s almost a given that Libre Office respects your privacy more than current versions of Microsoft Office. I don’t see how it could be otherwise.

  • It’s a fact that Libre Office is not as good as Microsoft Office. It can do a lot of things, many people are completely satisfied with it, but it still lags behind Microsoft. I’ll tell you about one feature that personally I couldn’t do without : the outline mode of Word. It does not exist in Libre Office. By the way, it pretty much exists only in Microsoft Word. I only know of two exceptions.

  • If you need compatibility with Microsoft Office, you’ll have trouble with Libre Office. Especially with the word processor. It is compatible in theory, but in practice, a whole lot a glitches do appear.

  • You might profit from buying a legitimate, outdated version of Microsoft Office. As far as I know, you can still go back to the 2007 edition. Those old versions are almost certainly far less intrusive than current versions. They also are desktop-based. No cloudish malarkey where you never know where your data is. Another advantage is, they are much cheaper. Of course, they might be unsupported, which means you trade security for privacy.

  • Just in case it might fit your needs, I’ll mention another Microsoft Office look-alike, which I find very good. It’s not open source, it’s German, it’s definitely not as powerful as Microsoft Office (and possibly less than Libre Office), but it’s really worth a look. It’s called Soft Maker Office Standard in its paid-for edition, and Free Office in its free version. The latter is already quite powerful. It’s certainly way more privacy-respecting than Microsoft Office. And by the way, Soft Maker Office Standard is one of the two office suites I know that do have a genuine outline mode, similar to Microsoft Word’s. The other one is WPS Office, which I would definitely not recommend : it displays some hugely suspicious behaviour privacy-wise.

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If you work in corporate, you pretty much have to use MS office. AFAIK, Libre Office does not handle even moderately complex functions from MS office.

I think your best bet is Zlivovitch’s recommendation to purchase an older packaged version of Office (not the cloud ver) and block telemetry via pi-hole and/or other tools. However, Office 2019 has a lot of really good features if most of your work is based on PowerPoint/Excel/Word.

Here are two good reviews of Libre Office, written by Linux aficionado Dedoimedo:


https://www.dedoimedo.com/computers/libreoffice-styles.html

Bottom line : Libre Office is okay, but not as good as Microsoft Office.

Dedoimedo again, on another substitute, Only Office (in the free, Desktop Editors version):

https://www.dedoimedo.com/computers/onlyoffice-desktop-editors.html

This one does not come across as stellar, really. The paid versions might be different.

What trouble does LibreOffice have? Which Office software do you use?

What trouble does LibreOffice have? Which Office do you use?

For documents and presentations, LibreOffice does not support many of the MS office features. You load a complex pptx/docx file and it doesn’t look 1:1 relative to the MS office version.

I’ve never used the LibreOffice spreadsheet app, but I can imagine things are even more dire there (just because Excel is even more “involved” than Word/PowerPoint.

It all depends on your needs. For corporate, I don’t think there is any option except MS office. That’s how they protect their monopoly. It make sense for MS to keep it that way.

I use Microsoft Office 2003 ! No ribbon ! Completely unsupported ! Dangerous ! Wide open to exploits ! Gremlins will pull your leg while you use it ! Baby blue and yellow interface !

Sometimes I also use Soft Maker Office Standard, whose interface is more modern and pleasant to the eye. But it spite of the fact I bought it, I keep coming back to MS Office, because I miss some of its advanced features.

Libre Office has trouble converting from its format to Word’s, and back again. The style system is not as good. It’s not high-DPI aware. The icons are badly designed (the rendering is horrible on my setup).

Do read the links I provided. I never used Libre Office intensively, for all those reasons.

I’ve used the Microsoft Office suite for as long as I can remember before I went the whole privacy route, since I have switched to Libreoffice, I haven’t had any issues with incompatibility, missing features, etc. I can really recommend it personally.