Migrating to Free LibreOffice from Microsoft 365

Office 365 subscription and use

I have just been writing about free productivity tools for windows and as I was working through them I realised that I am paying $165 NZ per year for Office 365 Home.

My subscription is coming up for renewal shortly. This is what it offers:

  • Share with your entire family – for up to 6 people
  • For use on multiple PCs/Macs, tablets, and phones (including Windows, iOS, and Android*)
  • Premium versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook, plus Publisher and Access for PC only
  • 1TB OneDrive cloud storage with advanced security per person • Collaborate on documents with others online
  • Tech support via chat or phone with Microsoft experts
  • Annual or monthly subscription. Your subscription will automatically continue. Cancel anytime.

I mainly use Excel, sometimes Word (not often), PowerPoint (infrequently), Publisher (hardly at all, although I like it) and I don’t use Access as I use MS SQL Server Express which is free, and I don’t use Outlook either, I prefer Thunderbird.

The 1 TB of storage. I just looked this morning and found I was using 25Gb of storage. I was using it to share information with others, mostly out of date, so I deleted the older stuff and it is now about 3.8 Gb. There is a free plan for 5Gb storage which I had originally.  I am not a great fan of putting my data in the cloud and use a WD MyCloud home storage that I prefer to use. I use Google Drive & OneDrive to share large files with others only.

So why am I paying for this? Mainly for comfort and familiarity and also one other reason.

I have developed is an Excel Macro Sheet for reordering and formatting  data from a 3D PDF export.  It has a few VBA  (Visual Basic for Applications) macros in it. Apart from that, there is nothing specific I need from Office 365 that other free tools cannot offer.

Free Office Online and Free alternatives to Microsoft Office:

There is OneNote that I use, but that’s free now. So I do not need the subscription for that.

You can use many of the Office programmes online (cut down versions) for free (Excel Max 5Mb file and no macros so that doesn’t work).

Google Docs, Open Office & Libre Office. Are all free alternatives and have a range of programmes in their suites. Another one is WPS Office , also known as King Office ( I think it may have had a name change at some point)

They will all meet my needs for productivity, apart from Google Doc,s which is totally On-line and I sometimes work off-line. I still use Google Docs, but also require to have a programme on my PC for running offline.

All of them do macros in their Spreadsheet programme but none of them are compatible with Excel VBA, apart from WPS Office, but the macro function is disabled for the free version.

I could re-write the macro in the new suites macro language. Or to run or edit the Macro’s in the Excel workbook and get a monthly subscription for Office 365 Home for $16NZ /month or there is another programme SoftMaker Office that uses VBA that you can have a monthly subscription for $4.49 for the home edition that includes Macros:BasicMaker (You can download a trial copy, which I’d to to test to see that the macro worked in the programme first).

I have read a few reviews of OpenOffice versus LibreOffice and it seems that LibreOffice will open and save in MS Office formats, so that is handy for my existing files and documents.

That basic setup will ease my transition from a paid subscription to a free suite of tools, so I have decided to go with LibreOffice (also I’d read that the later versions have some VBA compatibility, but my Macro’s do not run in LibreOffice Calc).


Download was easy. A straightforward process. Someone had commented on you just open one programme and then you have the choice of what you wish to do, I quite like that, it reduces icons on my taskbar.

I’ve had a bit of a tinker with Calc, Draw & Impress presentation, mainly opening them and seeing if they will open/save my existing Excel & PowerPoint files and they do.

I did go into Tools>Options>Load/Save- General and under Default File Settings & ODF format select each programme and choose save options (Calc to .xlsx writer to .docx and Impress to .pptm)

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Impress Remote from Mobile

I found a wee app on Google Play that lets you connect your mobile phone to laptop and act as remote control for slide presentations. Quite a cool little app.

I’ll have to see if I can get by using the new programme. Looking forward to it. I was thinking of putting video links to aspects of the LibreOffice Suite but if others are interested then they can search on their own.

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