Office for Mac 2011 vs free suites like Open Office

Sossity

macrumors 65816
Original poster
May 12, 2010
1,037
7
I am looking to run office apps on my mac for text documents, spreadsheets, and powerpoints.

I see ms office has a version for mac, but is it much better than the free versions like open office, neo office or libre office.

I need something that is reliable, and which makes compatible formats that I can use in the windows version of office.

I know one can make virtual machines, but for my laptop, I would like to just run the app itself.
 

simonsi

macrumors 601
Jan 3, 2014
4,850
718
Auckland
I run Office for Mac 2011 because ours is an Exchange environment - but I happily ran Open Office across a small company from 2002-2009, it met all our needs and was fully compatible with Word when we needed to swap docs with clients etc.

I haven't looked at it for a while but I think I'll d/l it and have another look - the beauty of open-source....
 

OldGreyGuy

macrumors member
Jan 14, 2014
80
7
Near Brisbane, Australia
I am looking to run office apps on my mac for text documents, spreadsheets, and powerpoints.

I see ms office has a version for mac, but is it much better than the free versions like open office, neo office or libre office.

I need something that is reliable, and which makes compatible formats that I can use in the windows version of office.

I know one can make virtual machines, but for my laptop, I would like to just run the app itself.
I have been a long time Unix/Linux user in my personal systems and have used OpenOffice/LibreOffice however I have never been happy with the compatability with MS Word & Excel when having to move documents back and forth between my systems at my client's offices. Especially the markup and comments features as I often have to trade documents with my clients a number of times.

I recently had my old laptop (running Linux) finally go to the laptop burial ground and I bit the bullet and went with a rMBP which I am loving as what I consider to be the best of both worlds.

I have added in a copy of MS Office 2011 and while there are a couple of issues between the two different platforms it is less than colleagues I work with who complain about 2010 and 2013 incompatibilities most of which just turn out to be just differences in the way the two versions display options and menus. Certainly not the formatting or macro issues I have had with documents and spreadsheets that move back and forth from OpenOffice/LibreOffice and MS Office.

For me I have had no real problems, most documents are requirements documents so not really complex and I have would rarely get over 100 to 150 pages, most spreadsheets would have 10 or so sheets so I guess I am only a medium user.

I am happier with MS Office than OpenOffice/LibreOfice because of the ability to swap back and forth with my clients. Often a detailed requirements specification or contract document could get 20 to 30 revisions by each party across a month and for me compatibility is most important.

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Having posted the above I remembered a problem with one client who had one of these massively complex templates and their document got to the point of actually crashing their Windows 7 environment when the document was opened.

I was able to just load it up in OpenOffice strip out most of the crazy formatting/sections and watermarks they had put in it and send it back to them where it was able to be used again.

Sometimes the other tools can just be handy.
 

Daysight

macrumors regular
Dec 15, 2011
192
1
I had a collaborator on a complex Word document mangle it when he inadvertently opened, edited and saved it in Open Office before returning it to me. Took me a wasted week to rebuild the document. Learned 3 things:
1. Don't use an alternative to Office in mission-critical collaborations.
2. The world needs document software that does not permit users to use too many different formatting options. Nothing wrong with smaller format options.
3. The world needs standard collaborative online/intranet document development tools.
 

maflynn

Moderator
Staff member
May 3, 2009
64,111
30,705
Boston
I need something that is reliable, and which makes compatible formats that I can use in the windows version of office.
Generally speaking the open source versions of Office do a great job with compatibility. There are certain things that break down, and the more complex the document the higher the likelihood it will render differently on office. Plus if you use VBScript, then you're out of luck.

I think though for most needs LibraOffice will work fine.
 

Irishman

macrumors 68030
Nov 2, 2006
2,646
581
Sossity, I'm sorry for derailing your thread, but I have a slightly different Office 2011 question for the MR brain trust:

I have Office Mac 2011 H&S installed on my late 2012 iMac. I'm planning on doing a clean install of Mavericks next month, and the only part of the process of reinstalling I haven't wrapped my mind around is Office.

I still have the Office .iso file in my Safari downloads folder. If I copy this to a thumb drive, and reinstall the program from it, will it work? It's a 1-user license. My concern is that MS will say "oh, no, you've already used up your license, and you'll have to rebuy Office to reinstall".

Any insights? I still have my 27-character PIN, and the product key they emailed me.
 

magnumpi

macrumors member
Sep 24, 2012
41
0
VM + Office 2013 is the safe bet here. Still you might want to hold on for a couple of months, I've read somewhere that a new version of Office for Mac will be released this year.
 

Sossity

macrumors 65816
Original poster
May 12, 2010
1,037
7
Sossity, I'm sorry for derailing your thread, but I have a slightly different Office 2011 question for the MR brain trust:

I have Office Mac 2011 H&S installed on my late 2012 iMac. I'm planning on doing a clean install of Mavericks next month, and the only part of the process of reinstalling I haven't wrapped my mind around is Office.

I still have the Office .iso file in my Safari downloads folder. If I copy this to a thumb drive, and reinstall the program from it, will it work? It's a 1-user license. My concern is that MS will say "oh, no, you've already used up your license, and you'll have to rebuy Office to reinstall".

Any insights? I still have my 27-character PIN, and the product key they emailed me.
If you do a time machine backup before your clean install, use migration assistant in utilities on the Mac, and you will be able to transfer all your software without having to do any reinstalled. use an external hard disk, and backup your whole hard drive before installing maverick.
 

Irishman

macrumors 68030
Nov 2, 2006
2,646
581
If you do a time machine backup before your clean install, use migration assistant in utilities on the Mac, and you will be able to transfer all your software without having to do any reinstalled. use an external hard disk, and backup your whole hard drive before installing maverick.
Great advice, except that I haven't created a TM backup yet.

Shame on me. Again, so so sorry to hijack your thread. :)
 

GreatDrok

macrumors 6502a
May 1, 2006
561
22
New Zealand
A couple of years back we switched to Google for our e-mail server having run a local Kerio server for a while. With the switch we decided to try and use Google Docs in favour of a mixture of MS Office and OpenOffice and now going back to e-mailing docs around seems like a step into the dark ages. With Google Docs you get the ability to access the docs from anywhere with a browser and the collaborative editing and comments is amazing. Using MS Word format with track changes is fraught by comparison without even looking at the file format conversion issues just switching between Mac and Windows versions let alone including OpenOffice/LibreOffice in the mix.

Some of our users still run MS Office but mostly we use Google Docs by default and if more complex formatting is needed, we can export from GD to a file OpenOffice or MS Office can handle and then finish the job there once all the content is in place. 99% of the time though, the GD version works just fine.
 

Adamsappel

macrumors regular
Mar 12, 2014
117
0
I am looking to run office apps on my mac for text documents, spreadsheets, and powerpoints.

I see ms office has a version for mac, but is it much better than the free versions like open office, neo office or libre office.

I need something that is reliable, and which makes compatible formats that I can use in the windows version of office.

I know one can make virtual machines, but for my laptop, I would like to just run the app itself.
OpenOffice can do almost everything but it is quirky. LibreOffice is more mature and well rounded and still free. I have been using these open source suites for years but, there is a huge BUT: nothing come even close to beating MS Office. If you are on a budget, compromise or otherwise get the real mccoy.

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A couple of years back we switched to Google for our e-mail server having run a local Kerio server for a while. With the switch we decided to try and use Google Docs in favour of a mixture of MS Office and OpenOffice and now going back to e-mailing docs around seems like a step into the dark ages. With Google Docs you get the ability to access the docs from anywhere with a browser and the collaborative editing and comments is amazing. Using MS Word format with track changes is fraught by comparison without even looking at the file format conversion issues just switching between Mac and Windows versions let alone including OpenOffice/LibreOffice in the mix.

Some of our users still run MS Office but mostly we use Google Docs by default and if more complex formatting is needed, we can export from GD to a file OpenOffice or MS Office can handle and then finish the job there once all the content is in place. 99% of the time though, the GD version works just fine.
There are at least a few hundred million users globally with such limited Internet access that cloud services are completely out of the question. To offer you a perspective, you are welcome to read here.

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VM + Office 2013 is the safe bet here. Still you might want to hold on for a couple of months, I've read somewhere that a new version of Office for Mac will be released this year.
And OneNote for Mac was released just today. A 400MB download and FREE for a promotional period only, so go get it while it lasts. It is a most excellent app.

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I think though for most needs LibraOffice will work fine.

True. One does not need to buy more real estate than your really require.
 

blesscheese

macrumors 6502a
Apr 3, 2010
692
170
Central CA
I've used LibreOffice quite a bit, and have been impressed with how well it converts MS Word files. As long as you stick to basic word processing stuff, it works 100%.

That being said, if you use anything other than basic stuff in Word, there may be some compatibility issues (I assume M$ does their darned-ist to make sure stuff breaks down).

My advice...if you have mission critical stuff and collaborate with others using Word/PowerPoint...see if you can get it cheap...many organizations (esp. govt.) qualify for the MS Home Use Program (google MS HUP), where you can pick it up cheap.

If you can't pick it up cheap--make your collaborators convert it to .doc or .odt before sending it to you.

If you don't have a need for security/secrecy/privacy, you could also try Google Doc's.
 

960design

macrumors 68030
Apr 17, 2012
2,841
841
Destin, FL
I like LibreOffice. Our environment is Exchange, but hopefully not much longer. I use Macs / Ubuntu / AS400 systems for my job. I use the free online iCloud pages to work with others, although I've only done this a couple of times. Most often I create documents in Pages on my Mac.
 

TheBlackLabEdge

macrumors member
Aug 4, 2013
35
1
I would say it depends on your use.

I've worked at 3 different positions in my career; 2 positions as accountant/office manager & the past 7 years at a bank. At every one of these positions LibreOffice would have been more than capable to handle what we did.
 

dyn

macrumors 68030
Aug 8, 2009
2,708
383
.nl
I had a collaborator on a complex Word document mangle it when he inadvertently opened, edited and saved it in Open Office before returning it to me. Took me a wasted week to rebuild the document.
Had that happen on a daily basis with Word documents because some were using a different version (newer or older Office, or a different language). In my last year I used OpenOffice.org (LibreOffice didn;t exist at that time) and managed to fix the documents in 15 minutes. Before that I used MS Office and it took me an entire week to rebuild it. Only managed to rebuild it partially. I learned the same 3 things as you did.

Learned 3 things:
1. Don't use an alternative to Office in mission-critical collaborations.
Apparently even a different language can be considered as "an alternative Office version". Make sure all parties use the same version, same language and same templates. Or use plain text stuff (see next point).

2. The world needs document software that does not permit users to use too many different formatting options. Nothing wrong with smaller format options.
And we have it. There are several markup languages available with LaTeX being the most well known. It's just all plain text. You only define what a piece of text should be (title, body, table, etc.).

3. The world needs standard collaborative online/intranet document development tools.
Not really necessary but it can make things easier. Usually people use something like Blackboard, Sharepoint and so on. What I've learned at school is that you really do not need additional software. You need to think about it, put it down on paper and stick to it. Having a person in charge of merging the documents and one for managing the documents is also key. If you want software, there are tools like git which can be used for things like this too (version control systems can be used for non-development stuff as well!). However, the software is useless if you do not think about how to do the collaboration. Having a plan is what it's all about.
 

Menge

macrumors 6502a
Dec 22, 2008
609
2
Amsterdam
For me the decision of LibreOffice vs MS Office comes down to a simple question:
Will you routinely receive, edit, and send or send, have them edited, and receive Office documents with people that only use MS Office? If so, then use MS Office.

LibreOffice is great in an all-LibreOffice environment just like MS Office is great in an all-MS Office environment. They tend to break each other's files in a mixed environment depending on formatting.

For me? LibreOffice all the way!
 

CoMoMacUser

macrumors 6502a
Jun 28, 2012
671
3
I run Office 2008 on an iMac and an MBA. When I got a Windows 8 tablet about six months, I decided to try LibreOffice, and I'm impressed. LO works great by itself, and I haven't had any formatting or other issues when exchanging files with Office or vice-versa. If I didn't have one license remaining on Office, I'd probably use LO on my next Mac.
 

Micky Do

macrumors 68000
Aug 31, 2012
1,829
1,368
An island in the Andaman Sea.
I am using Word from Office for Mac (2008) to do reports for work right now, and hating it. I mostly use Pages, which may lack all the features of Word, but it is far more straight forward in use.

Pages now comes installed with new Macs, and documents can be exported in Word format. It might be a good place to start if you have bought a Mac recently