New LibreOffice 7.2: More Office compatibility, but enterprise really should pay up
LibreOffice has more Office compatibility and native Apple Silicon support, but The Document Foundation really wants enterprise customers to pay for the otherwise free and open source (FOSS) alternative to Microsoft Office.
The Document Foundation (TDF) has announced the release of LibreOffice 7.2, the free and open source alternative to Microsoft Office.
LibreOffice 7.2 arrives six months after TDF released LibreOffice 7.1 with a message urging enterprise users to stop using the free Community version and move to a paid-for LibreOffice Enterprise version with more support options from partners.
TDF, which bills LibreOffice as "free and open source software" (FOSS), is maintaining its position that enterprise organizations should stop free-riding off the volunteer-made community version and that LibreOffice may stagnate like OpenOffice -- the open source office productivity suite that Oracle offloaded to The Apache Foundation in 2011.
"LibreOffice is also great for schools, educational and research institutions, and large organizations; in these cases, we strongly recommend using LibreOffice Enterprise versions from one of our ecosystem partners," TDF says.
Commenters on Hacker News have noted that the TDF faces a difficult challenge convincing anyone, including enterprise users, to pay for a FOSS office productivity suite -- in part because LibreOffice and other FOSS products can't compete with the quality of paid-for products like Microsoft Office and Google Workspace, be they locally hosted or in the cloud.
As for the LibreOffice 7.2 update, the major highlight is interoperability improvements with Microsoft's proprietary file formats and its availability for Apple's Arm-based laptops.
However, TDF warns that while binaries are available, the Apple Silicon build "should not be used for any critical purpose at this stage."
There are updates for key apps including the Writer word processor, the Calc spreadsheet app, and Impress & Draw. The key updates include:
GENERAL • Popup list to search for menu commands • Scrollable style picker in the NotebookBar • Fontwork panel in the Sidebar • New list view for the templates dialog • Built-in "Xray"-like UNO object inspector
WRITER • Background fills can cover whole pages, beyond margins • Page styles can now have a gutter margin • Mail merge shows a warning about nonexistent data sources • RDF metadata in Style Inspector • Custom color metadata field shadings
CALC • Calc now can filter by color in AutoFilter • HTML tables listed in the External Data dialogue now show captions • "Fat cross" cursor available in the options • Type can be selected in "Moving Average" trend lines
IMPRESS & DRAW • New templates: Candy, Freshes, Grey Elegant, Growing Liberty, Yellow Idea • Multiple columns now available in text boxes • Direct access to the scaling factor via the status bar