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LibreOffice 4.2 focuses upon performance and interoperability

by Mark Tyson on 30 January 2014, 19:27

Tags: Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT)

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The Document Foundation has announced a new version of its free power-packed Open Source office suite LibreOffice. Today's version 4.2 release offers a range of new features and a large number of changes improving interoperability, performance and functionality. LibreOffice is compatible with Windows, Macintosh and Linux with six productivity applications on offer including; Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, Math and Base.

The changes made in version 4.2 which you might first notice involve the removal of the module selection options from the custom installation dialog on Windows. The developers also changed the start screen to now display the most recent documents on the right with additional options to create a new document in of its six applications on the left, making it a generally cleaner layout making better use of the space. Also notably over 70 per cent of UI dialogues have been updated and tweaked for usability.

This significant update is said to be better integrated with Microsoft OOXML and in particular DOCX as well as legacy RTF. New import filters for Abiword documents and Apple Keynote presentations have also been added. There's an Expert Configuration windows available to power users within the options tab to help you get the most out of the suite.

Kaveri HSA optimisations in formula interpreter

Of all the Office modules reworked the biggest changes have probably been to Calc. This spreadsheet component has had a major performance boost for 'big data' as the application has been put through "the largest code refactoring ever", now allowing it to support parallel calculations using your PC's graphics processing unit via OpenCL. We are told the new formula interpreter "works best with a Heterogeneous System Architecture (HSA) such as the new AMD Kaveri APU".

A full list of changes can be found here.

UK government ditching Microsoft Office?

The Guardian has recently reported that plans are being made by the UK Government to switch from Microsoft Office to open source such as LibreOffice or OpenOffice.

This is an effort to cut costs on Office software as around £200m has been spent on Microsoft's suite alone since 2010. Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude believes that "The software we use in government is still supplied by just a few large companies. A tiny oligopoly dominates the marketplace." He also said he thought that the government is currently "paying top dollar for yesterday's technology."

"I want to see a greater range of software used, so civil servants have access to the information they need and can get their work done without having to buy a particular brand of software," added Maude.



HEXUS Forums :: 19 Comments

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'UK government ditching Microsoft Office?' Been talked about for a long time. Doubt it will happen any time soon. Microsoft Office does not exist in isolation - it exists as part of an ecosystem.
wasabi
'UK government ditching Microsoft Office?' Been talked about for a long time. Doubt it will happen any time soon. Microsoft Office does not exist in isolation - it exists as part of an ecosystem.

Quite true, but there's things you can easily do to make things better. For one, ban departments from using docx, xlsx and pptx - instead "standardising" on the older MS-Office formats. Next thing is to look seriously at what people actually use their office suite for - you may find that a whole lot don't use those "advanced" features like VBA that would normally mean that it's "MS Office only". In which case there's little real objection to "upgrading" ( ;) ) them to a different suite. TBH, I found switching from pre-ribbon Office to Libre a LOT less hassle than going to the beribboned Microsoft product.

As I've said elsewhere, it's only really Calc that lets the side down. There's stuff around conditional formatting etc that is just done 'better' in Excel than Calc.

Maybe I'm being cynical - but like you I think this is a load of hot air - it wouldn't be that the license is due for renewal shortly is it? Not for one second though am I suggesting that this is just a way to put pressure on Redmond to come up with more acceptable renewal pricing...
... or am I? ;)
Bearing in mind the UK government's past record with IT projects, I cannot help suspecting that a change to open-source software will involve more spending on consultant's fees and "training" than the MS licences.
crossy
Quite true, but there's things you can easily do to make things better. For one, ban departments from using docx, xlsx and pptx - instead "standardising" on the older MS-Office formats.

docx should be encouraged, it is an open source xml format, rather than a semi-proprietory one! Open/libre Office (and other applications) can read and convert to/from docx formats.

As for the licensing issues, a corporate user the size of the UK gov could negotiate substantial licensing agreements, although departments may have their own purchasing arrangements. There have been several initiatives to centralise Government purchasing (Gcat, for example) What doesn't happen is licence re-use, although that may be because the individual licence costs are low anyway. Even so, the costs quoted in the article are high, and if a move to open source software makes overall savings (including cost of ownership) then that can only be a good thing.

The picture is more complicated though, because the management and maintenance of many management IT systems is outsourced - in effect the hardware and software is leased and paid for on a per-user basis, so again, if licensing costs are reduced, it would be reasonable to see a reduction in per-user costs.
Brian224
Bearing in mind the UK government's past record with IT projects, I cannot help suspecting that a change to open-source software will involve more spending on consultant's fees and "training" than the MS licences.


Exactly. You don't even need to blame this on the government's implementation of the upgrade: the people who actually use the software are not geeks, they are civil servants, no better at learning to use a new piece of software than the average Joe off the street.

If they switch over to LibreOffice they better be ready to deal with people who are absolutely lost the minute something is even just a tiny bit different from what they were used to in Office.

Switching may still be a good idea, but thinking that it will mean saving all the money being spent on licenses right now with no downsides is just dangerously naïve.