The Document Foundation (TDF) has announced the release of LibreOffice 7.2, a free and open source alternative to Microsoft Office.
LibreOffice 7.2 comes six months after TDF released LibreOffice 7.1
TDF, which counts LibreOffice as “free and open source software” (FOSS), maintains its position that business organizations should stop running the voluntary version of society, and that LibreOffice may stagnate as OpenOffice open source productivity suite as Oracle loaded down to The Apache Foundation in 2011.
“Despite this recommendation, an increasing number of companies are using the version supported by volunteers, instead of the version optimized for their needs and supported by the various ecosystem companies,” says TDF in a blog post announcing LibreOffice 7.2, which is available for Windows, MacOS and Linux from the LibreOffice website.
This poses a long-term problem for the sustainability of the LibreOffice project and risks the lifetime of the free Community edition, says TDF.
“Slowing down the development of the platform harms users at all levels, and could eventually lead to a stagnation of the LibreOffice project.”
In other words, enterprise users who want LibreOffice to avoid the fate of OpenOffice, from which it was thrown, should support TDF’s project through LibreOffice enterprise support partners.
LibreOffice was forked from OpenOffice after Oracle inherited the latter through the acquisition of Sun Microsystems in 2009. Oracle had an eye on the Java development platform, but OpenOffice was not important.
Oracle dropped commercial OpenOffice and handed it over to the Apache Software Foundation in 2011. But while TDF went ahead with frequent updates, OpenOffice development and security fixes stagnated rapidly. Linux distributions such as Debian and Ubuntu are distributing LibreOffice these days.
On TDF’s LibreOffice company page, the project notes that the social edition is “great for home users and small office users”. That edition lacks technical support.
“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,” says TDF.
Commentators at Hacker News have noted that TDF faces a difficult challenge convincing everyone, including business users, to pay for a FOSS productivity package – in part because LibreOffice and other FOSS products cannot compete with the quality of paid products such as Microsoft Office and Google Workspace, be it locally or in the cloud.
When it comes to the LibreOffice 7.2 update, the biggest highlight is improvements in interoperability with Microsoft’s proprietary file formats and the availability of Apple’s Arm-based laptops.
However, TDF warns that although binaries are available, Apple Silicon build “should not be used for any critical purposes at this stage.”
There are updates for important apps, including Writer word processor, Calc spreadsheet app and Impress & Draw. The most important updates include:
• Pop-up list to search for menu commands
Scrollable style selector in NotebookBar
• Fontwork panel in the sidebar
• New list view for the template dialog box
Built-in “Xray” -like UNO object inspector
• Background fill can cover entire pages, beyond margins
Page styles can now have a roof margin
• Mail merge displays a warning about non-existent data sources
• RDF metadata in Style Inspector
• Custom color metadata field shadows
Calc can now filter by color in AutoFilter
• HTML tables listed in the External Data dialog box now display captions
• The “Fat Cross” cursor is available in the options
• Type can be selected in the trend lines “Moving average”
IMPRESS AND DRAW
• New Painters: Candy, Freshes, Gray Elegant, Growing Liberty, Yellow Idea
• More columns are now available in text boxes
• Direct access to the scaling factor via the status bar