LibreOffice 7.4 released with MS Office compatibility improvements

LibreOffice logo on a colorful background

LibreOffice 7.4 has been released, bringing multiple improvements, fixes, and the introduction of minor productivity-focused features across the entire suite’s programs.

LibreOffice is the world’s most widely used open-source office suite, available in 120 languages, Linux, Windows, and macOS operating systems, and supporting a range of architectures.

Version 7.4 is the fourth major release of branch seven that focuses on improving the project’s interoperability and compatibility with proprietary MS Office document formats, and much work has been carried out on that front.

The latest release was made possible thanks to contributions from a global community of volunteers, as well as programmers from Collabora, RedHat, and TDF (The Document Foundation).

Percentage of contributions to LibreOffice 7.4
Percentage of contributions to LibreOffice 7.4 (TDF)

In total, 147 individual contributors worked on LibreOffice 7.4 and made 658,000 changes, joined by a team of 528 volunteers who provided extensive localization options to support the program’s documentation.

New features

The highlighted features in LibreOffice 7.4, according to the release’s announcement, are the following:

General:

  • Support for WebP images and EMZ/WMZ files
  • Help pages for the ScriptForge scripting library
  • Search field for the Extension Manager
  • Performance and compatibility improvements

Writer:

  • Better change tracking in the footnote area
  • Edited lists show original numbers in change tracking
  • New typographic settings for hyphenation

Calc:

  • Support for 16,384 columns in spreadsheets
  • Extra functions in the drop-down AutoSum widget
  • New menu item to search for sheet names

Impress:

  • New support for document themes

Apart from the above, LibreOffice 7.4 also brings a range of improvements and fixes in terms of interoperability, aiming to make opening MS Office files on the open-source suite less problematic.

The announcement promises dramatic improvements over the previous version (7.3) related to file-type interoperability, so those who work between the two office suites are strongly recommended to upgrade to 7.4.

The recommendation remains to use the ODF file type instead of DOC or DOCX, as this format is ISO approved, secure, and doesn’t contain hidden artificial complexity. Also, ODF files are guaranteed to enjoy better support in the distant future.

Finally, the Document Foundation has introduced a Migration Protocol to support companies that want to move from MS Office to LibreOffice for Enterprises, providing consultancy, training, and migration support.

The new release announcement grasps the opportunity to remind companies they’re supposed to use LibreOffice for Enterprises and not the Community edition, as the latter choice undermines the growth potential and evolution rate of the entire project.

Home users can go straight to LibreOffice’s download portal and grab the latest version for their OS.