I am a student and I have had quite a journey looking for a good replacement for M$ Word. I tried LibreOffice, Only Office (Desktop Editors) and WPS Office and I will try my best to explain the advantages and disadvantages of each.
First off, LibreOffice. It is one of the most popular word processors available in Linux and is completely free which is great. However, I feel that it struggles when it comes to the theme. The icons that come with LibreOffice are sort of a blast to the past and the user interface isn’t really that easy to use from the perspective of a M$ Office user. It comes with many features but it struggles with keeping the formatting consistent between itself and M$ Office. Opening a file with LibreOffice can have many downsides such as paragraphs spacing off, incorrect space offset, and other issues. There is another version of LibreOffice which allows users to have a ribbon at the top with all their options on it but it is not very organized or similar to M$ Offices. I’d also like to add that LibreOffice allows for theme packs which can improve its interface and give it a much cleaner, fresher look than what comes shipped with the program suite.
Next, there is Only Office, which is not an open-source product. It is monetized and has a lot of important features such as mail merge missing without paying a subscription like you do in Office 365. The program has only one app, not three, and all of its features (spreadsheets, text, presentation) all open in little tabs at the top of the program rather than in the taskbar. An annoyance was the lack of a Ctrl+Backspace option which I use very often, almost every day. The program isn’t too similar to M$ Office as far as UI goes but is still not too hard to get used to thanks to all the important features easily visible at all times. The formatting stays consistent between M$ and this program as well. The fact that this program hides features without a subscription makes me rate this highly capable editor below LibreOffice.
Lastly, I have WPS office. Unlike LibreOffice, this program doesn’t base its user interface colors off of the system’s gtk or shell themes. However, this program does come with a light theme and a dark theme shipped with it by default as well as an older M$ Office 2013 style and even a classic (like LibreOffice) layout. The program keeps consistent formatting between documents and even saves to the new formats of documents by default. I installed Office 2007 on Wine for comparison and shockingly when running both platforms side-by-side the results were shocking. WPS Office had almost every feature that M$ Office had (except for mail merge and bibliography) and the ribbon layout was almost identical. The new layout even had a nicer layout than the 2016 version of Office that I own and it even had animations for the ribbon tabs. The icons in WPS Office are nice, however, in the dark version of 2016 they are hard to see without turning up my brightness. I’d have to say that WPS Office should be the standard word processor in every Linux distribution. As a side note I’d also like to say that WPS uses a tab system similar to Only Office, however, the documents are divided by Writer, Presentation, and Spreadsheet.
Although WPS Office is technically “free” that doesn’t mean that it’s open source. What it does well is providing a user interface similar to M$ Office for “free” but it’s still owned by a company which aims to make a profit through the use of ads. This is true for OnlyOffice aswell. Both WPS Office and OnlyOffice remove unpopular yet important features such as mail merge to get people on the paid version of their product similar to M$ Office 365, which is a subscription-based service. This is where LibreOffice really shines. It is not controlled by a monetized business model that aims towards cutting features in order to get people to a paid product, but rather to provide capable and feature-rich document editor. LibreOffice is open source which means its purpose is not for making money so there are no ads and no missing features. You can, to my knowledge, do mail merges and generate bibliographies just like M$ Office can do but for free unlike M$ Office, WPS, and OnlyOffice. I also believe that there is a command for LibreOffice that fixes the formatting issues that can be added to the .desktop executable file.
Looking back on it now, I’d have to say that since I don’t use any of the features missing in the free version of WPS Office, and I usually use only WPS Office I would have rated it #1. However, seeing all that LibreOffice has done for Linux as a whole, and its free and open source nature, I’d have to tie both WPS Office and LibreOffice at the 1st place, putting Only Office in 2nd place for its complicated and abnormal user interface along with its monetized business model and cutting features on the free version. I may need to give LibreOffice a 2nd chance because it is a great software suite that deserves attention for all that it’s done and for very little in return.
I hope that this post was helpful to you and that you were able to determine which editor works best for you. I don’t expect you to just take my word for this and I hope that you experiment with this yourselves, these are just my suggestions and I’m only trying to help you figure out what’s best for you a little bit easier. Let me know if there are any others that you like more. Which editor is your favorite?