LibreOffice vs. WPS Office: Which Office Suite Should You Use on Linux

LibreOffice and WPS Office are two common Microsoft Office alternatives for the Linux platform. There has been several debates as to which of these is the better alternative to Microsoft Office. The debates, surely, are not going to end anytime soon.

There is no definitive answer here! The choice between the two is completely dependent on the user and the job at hand. LibreOffice and WPS Office both have their pros and cons. After sharing some pros and cons of each office suite, you will be better informed to make your choice should you get caught up in such a dilemma.

A major difference one may notice between LibreOffice and WPS Office is the number of applications bundled in each office suite. WPS Office comes bundled with only three applications:

  • WPS Presentation
  • WPS Writer
  • WPS Spreadsheets

However, LibreOffice comes bundled with additional applications:

  • LibreOffice Base,
  • Calc
  • Draw
  • Impress
  • Math
  • Writer

In short, WPS offers a presentation, word processor, and spreadsheet software, whereas LibreOffice, in addition, includes a database management program (Base) and drawing program (Draw). For this reason, LibreOffice may be your first choice if you want to use the additional software.

LibreOffice

WPS Office

Beyond that is the number of file formats each suite can handle. LibreOffice can read file formats as diverse as Hangul WP 97, Microsoft Word documents, and DocBook. WPS Office reads some of the most common file formats as well; however, not as many as LibreOffice. They can both write to almost all the common file formats. WPS Office renders Microsoft Word documents better, in most cases, than LibreOffice, as it supports most of the default Microsoft Word fonts. These fonts must, however, be installed, as they are needed for better performance.

If you are only dealing with Microsoft Office documents, either one will work fine. If you need support for more diverse formats, then LibreOffice is the one to go with.

The user interface may not play a major role in choosing between the two software. Nonetheless, it may be a factor worth considering. WPS has about five skins to choose from with some looking similar to that of Microsoft Word. LibreOffice, likewise, provides the ability to change the theme. A key feature which, in my opinion, is very helpful but not included in LibreOffice, is the tab interface. WPS provides tabs for the various documents you are working on; hence, there is absolutely no need to switch back and forth between windows.

WPS Tabs

LibreOffice is free and open source. There are absolutely no fees to worry about. WPS has a free version which will suffice for most tasks. There is also a Professional edition with more features like document collaboration, but at a fee. WPS Office supports other platforms which are not supported by LibreOffice like Android.

A subtle thing you may notice in WPS Office is the lack of automatic em dash. In LibreOffice when you hit the spacebar after a word preceded by two en dashes, the two en dashes change into one em dash. To get an em dash in WPS Office, you must search for it under symbols; trust me, that is annoying.

Both office suites are great and perform very well. The dilemma between which to install on your system may not really matter. In fact, you can have the two suites installed on your computer, and that uses far less space than Microsoft Word does. In addition, there are several other office suite applications you can use, such as Calligra or Google Docs, so you are not bound to either LibreOffice or WPS.

16 comments

  1. Libre Office is a bit less user-friendly than MS Office (try to indent, for example) but it will do most things users need, even if it takes two or three looks at the HELP files. Remember how much you’re saving and give them some love by way of a donation.

  2. I too have tried both of these office suites (and many others!) and of them all? LibreOffice is the one that does all of what I need it to do effortlessly. Surprisingly enough the document/spreadsheet applications aren’t the highlight for me. It’s the Math and Database (Base) apps that are most useful. Working with those and my SQL servers I can be productive and not have to trouble my manager for licenses! Definitely the winner in my book!

  3. I’ve used LibreOffice for work for a few years now, and have used it more since moving over to Linux.

    I use csv files a lot, and have to maintain the right encoding (UTF-8) which is difficult to do with Excel (perhaps they’ve fixed it in more recent versions?).

    I’m not moving back to Office anytime soon, as I generally don’t want MS software on any of my machines or devices.

  4. I prefer Textmaker (Softmaker Office). to either WPS or LibreOffice. It doesn’t yet have an equation editor on the Linux side but in other respects, it’s much superior to LO. It’s much more useful when writing E-books. One can search for hard formatting and replace it with character styles, for example. LO still can’t search for styles.Last I tried LO, a couple months ago, they had broken all their addons. LO’s search functionality is, in general, broken. One still can’t vertically center text in LO without the hassle of text frames. (And LO’s devs, when filing bug reports and feature requests, tend to be complete jerks.) Textmaker, like WPS, also has tabs for different documents. LO still can’t manage this. Textmaker is also available on Android. LO’s android presence is fairly useless.

    • I agree. Textmaker (and the companion spreadsheet program, Planmaker) are my Linux office apps of choice. I found their interoperability with MSOffice documents superior to LO, particularly with highly formatted documents. The Softmaker programs also seem significantly faster than LO, as well as MSO in the Windows incarnation. Other pluses include tabs for multiple documents and having a PDF button on the toolbar. Well worth the low price that Softmaker charge.

  5. In a Microsoft centric environment wherein MS office files are the norm – WPS office is indispensable. I’ve been using Linux as my primary desktop for years, and Libreoffice as good as it is, still have some compatibility issues with some Microsoft office files, specially in Excel. WPS office may not be 100% compatible but I have better experience with it in terms if compatibility with MS office files. For total office suite experience – Libreoffice no doubt! But for compatibility with MS Office – WPS is the winner.

  6. If you’re already on Linux it’s a conscious decision for privacy, security and reliability. The last thing you want is to drag in proprietary software, which defies these advantages. Libre office is the gold standard for a free software and open standards. It’s a distinction that closed source software simply can’t compete with.

  7. The last MS Office I used regularly was my Office 95 Deluxe edition. By 1999, MS had for the second time changed its file format and was making it more difficult for me to continue with my (their) software. I picked up StarOffice in Sept 1999 and I’ve used it, OpenOffice and now LibreOffice ever since. Very few people who have received documents from me (and I send them both docx and odt files) have reported any problems with viewing, editing them. I have helped a few install LO instead of purchasing MS Office, as well, even some who could no longer open older versions of MS Office documents except with LO!
    However, my Android life sent me searching for something which could edit and save my extensive ODF files, and Softmaker’s Textmaker became my crutch, and now its HD version is a wonderful addition on my Note 10.1. They are preparing a Linux version, which they have offered me to trial as a beta tester. My first read (one day of use) is that it is a very capable version, a lot more complex than LibreOffice, and a bit of that complexity, for me, comes because its menu structure is so different from LO.
    WPS Office? I’ve downloaded and installed, but its “free” but not open nature, restrictive ODF operation (when I tried it, it would only open, but not allow one to save in ODF) have kept me far away.

  8. My experience matches that of Toushin. WPS is indispensable for me to work with documents which are mostly MS office files. LO just doesn’t do it. The more I work with WPS the more I like it.

  9. Hello, I can suggest you to have a look on SM Office. The import of MS Office Files runs much better than with LO

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