Office compatibility test

Sometimes I need to edit Microsoft Office documents, but I prefer a XFCE Linux desktop nowadays, so I need to make use of other office suites. Often this is LibreOffice but I discovered a few others. Which one is best? No one knows for sure, so I installed all of them on my up-to-date Arch Linux box.

  • LibreOffice 6 (“fresh”)
  • OnlyOffice Desktop (AUR)
  • SoftMaker Freeoffice (AUR)
  • WPS (Kingsoft) (AUR)

And also I had Microsoft Office 2016 running in a KVM/QEMU VM with Windows 10 on another machine.

I found a demo.docx file that was designed for/by the Calibre project. It contains images, tables, complex lists, formatting and so on. I opened the file with all the listed office suites, and exported the file to PDF. I made a quick and dirty comparison in a spreadsheet (see the results.png below) and made screenshots of the page with tables.


Note that I also converted the demo.docx to the latest Office 2016 format and exported that one to PDF again. It didn’t make much (or any) difference in my view.

As you see, the latest LibreOffice isn’t that bad at all. It also has the benefit of native OpenDocument support and wide availability as it is included by default in a lot of Linux distributions. But it doesn’t hurt to have other options as well.

In fact, LibreOffice 6 did shadow handling for images better than Microsoft Office 2016 when exporting the demo.docx to a PDF. But LibreOffice didn’t get the dropcaps right (not that many people use that feature), for which you need WPS Writer, but the latter changed the font for the whole document and had flaky bookmark generation.

Below I’ve put the screenshots of the page with tables, one screenshot for each office suite.

Microsoft Office 2016 WordTables - Microsoft Office 2016 Word

LibreOffice WriterTables - LibreOffice Writer

OnlyOffice DesktopTables - OnlyOffice Desktop

SoftMaker Freeoffice TextMakerTables - SoftMaker Freeoffice TextMaker

WPS WriterTables - WPS Writer

Download all docx, pdf, png and other files:

Oh, btw, I like Markdown best for writing and Gnumeric for spreadsheets, so that’s what I actually used to create this blogpost — before uploading & editing it to WordPress, that is.