2 Oct 2016


LibreOfficeis a free open source productivity suite. It includes a word processor (like MS Word), spreadsheet (like MS Excel) and presentation software (like MS PowerPoint) and many more tools. LibreOffice is aggressively maintained and is available for Mac, Windows and Linux. I regularly use LibreOffice for my work as well as personal stuff.

If you are company of say 50 people, you are probably paying $5000 an year just for the office suite that includes presentation, spreadsheet and text software (email not included). See the middle option below . This money is much better spent on a true collaboration software such as Slack.

Though Microsoft has made recognizable improvements in the web version of office (option 1) , it is still far from ‘business-ready’ as a standalone solution. When you want something done, the only choice is the desktop versions of Word , Excel and Power point. Which means, Options 1 is essentially a hosted email service for $5 per user.

In Option 2 , Microsoft provides desktop apps but doesn’t cover the email. Which means Option 2 is the cost of Office Apps. They do offer a Terabyte of free storage which is very lucrative but my experiences is, very few corporate users need that kind of storage. If you are not loading your personal music, photos and videos , its almost impossible to consume that kind of space. Most user end up consuming 5 to 20 gigs. Slack provides 10 GB per team member as a collective storage for an all inclusive package of $8 per user. Which means if you are a small business of 50 users , you have 500 Gigs of storage for your work. I bet you will never run out of this.

Option 3 is the full suite that gives you email and desktop apps (Visio and Project not included). To sweeten the deal Microsoft has added Skype calling and a terabyte of online storage. We have talked about the online storage above. As regards to Skype business conferencing, my experience was not all that great. It sure will improve over time but there are ton of free or very competitively priced services for conferencing. Check out free conference calling. I have been using this at work for last three months. Its lot superior quality and full of features. Thus the cost equation is Option 3 ($ 12.50 ) = Option 1 ($5) + Option 2 ( $8.25)- a 75 cents discount for buying the full bundle. If you take away the goodies , you are paying $8 per user for the office desktop apps. Almost $ 100 per user per year. It probably made sense in 1998. In 2016, given that the cost of computing is reducing exponentially, there is no reason shelling out the same bill year after year. Other cost drivers If you train your business users on LibreOffice, and make it a part of the business life, your transition to Linux will be lot smoother. I am using only Linux from last 6 months for my work and home. It meets all my needs in addition to being the most stable and secure operating system. I have been documenting my Linux learning journey from last three months here.

Switching to Linux from Windows is probably another 5K saving for business of 50 users. LibreOffice can run on older hardware and so is Linux. Which means you don’t need to spend $$ on fancy high end local computers. If you keep a modest $300 depreciation per year for the work laptops , there is clearly a saving of 15 K. LibreOffice is more than a money saver Put together a saving of around 25 K per year is not bad. But LibreOffice is more than just savings.. First big benefit to me is productivity increase. With very little distractions, my work got faster. LibreOffice does little less than MS Office but whatever it does, it’s best in class. I personally don’t mind giving up features that I will never anyway use.

Linux is a right step towards cloud. Most of cloud runs on Linux. If you train your employees on Linux at workplace, chances are they will easily adopt the cloud.

Most importantly, LibreOffice is an open source project. Built by people without any commercial motivation with open standards. Just for the love of it. That in itself is good enough reason to switch ..

And embrace freedom !