Open source 'Office' options keep Microsoft running faster than ever

LibreOffice, Collabora, KDE Gear all updated their Microsoft alternatives – whatever your OS

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 two versions of LibreOffice; the other is the Enterprise branch.

Both versions are free. The difference is that the Community version is the faster-moving development branch. It's comparable to a free Linux distro, or a short-term Ubuntu release: there's no commercial support, but you may be able to get assistance from other users – in other words, the Community.

[Collabera's] Android app was able to open password-protected files directly from Dropbox, which neither the Dropbox app nor Google Docs can do

The Enterprise version has a slower release cycle, but it's available with commercial support. One of the significant partners behind LibreOffice is Collabora, which has just released Collabora Office version 22.05.

Collabora is one of the leading developers of LibreOffice, making about one-third of the commits to the codebase. Alongside conventional desktop-oriented versions, Collabora offers a web-based version, Collabora Online, which works alongside various cloud storage providers, including both NextCloud and OwnCloud along with many others.

The company also offers mobile versions for both iOS and Android. The mobile apps have matured noticeably from when we looked at LibreOffice 7.1. They are still a little clunky, but they're useful, especially as viewers. For instance, we can confirm that the Android app was able to open password-protected files directly from Dropbox, which neither the Dropbox app nor Google Docs can do.

The KDE Project also recently announced a new release of KDE Gear. Version 22.04.2 is the second bugfix to the bigger version 22.04 earlier this year.

Although some KDE-centric distributions, such as Kubuntu, tend to bundle the more mainstream Firefox and LibreOffice applications rather than the KDE-specific equivalents, the KDE applications haven't gone anywhere.

KDE Gear is the new name for what was formerly described as the KDE Applications Bundle. There are more than 120 components, including a wide range of accessories and full rich applications. A subset of the KDE Apps comprise the Calligra office suite: Words, Sheets, Stage, Carbon (for vector drawing), Plan (project management), and KEXI (for visual database apps).

The apps integrate well with the KDE desktop, but they are self-contained programs, and KDE Gear also supports BSD, Windows and Apple macOS. ®

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