Breath of fresh air: v7.3 of LibreOffice boasts improved file importing and rendering

And better compatibility with some more proprietary word processors

Six months after LibreOffice 7.2, version 7.3 is out with faster and more accurate file importing and rendering for improved compatibility with Microsoft Office.

The new release is the latest "fresh" version. The Document Foundation also offers a "still" edition, which is based on an older but more extensively tested release; it's currently on version 7.1.8. The differences aren't that dramatic – without rehashing the release notes, these are point releases, so don't expect huge changes.

It has better support for importing Microsoft Office documents, and lots of relatively modest improvements in diagrams, charts, hyperlink support, and more. If you really push Microsoft's offering hard, LibreOffice probably isn't for you, but if like most of us you barely scratch the surface of what it can do, you will probably be fine with LibreOffice.

Users that like the "fluent" interface in modern Microsoft products can flip between the traditional layout, with a text-based menu bar and multiple repositionable toolbars, and a more modern tabbed, multi-row ribbon. It also supports a single, combined toolbar pinned at the top, and a sidebar, among other options, so there should be something to suit everyone. If, like the author, you abhor the ribbon, then the option of a traditional UI is a big win for LibreOffice – it's no longer available in rivals such as OnlyOffice 7 or WPS Office.

As we mentioned before, there's improved language support, too.

Just for comparison, if you're still using OpenOffice – long orphaned by Oracle – its current version is 4.1.11. LibreOffice 4.1 was released way back in 2013, which means that OpenOffice now lags by nearly a decade. Given that it's free, there's really no strong case to be made for staying on OpenOffice.

The new version will doubtless trickle down to various Linux distributions in time, but if you're impatient, downloads are available on the LibreOffice website. The downloaded version can be installed side by side with older versions: the shiny new upstream release will appear in your app-launcher as "LibreOffice 7.3" (and "LibreOffice 7.3 Writer", etc.) alongside your distro's version. The only restriction is that you can't run old and new simultaneously. The PC version works back to Windows 7 SP1, and if you use an older Mac, version 7.3 wants macOS 10.12 "Sierra" – in both cases, newer is of course fine. ®

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