LibreOffice takes to the cloud to challenge Google Docs


LibreOffice has announced plans to unveil an online version of its popular and free productivity suite, likely in a nod to Google Docs and Office Online.

First reported by InfoWorld, Collabora (one of the contributors to the LibreOffice project) has signed a partnership with IceWarp to construct a web based version dubbed LibreOffice Online that will be released by the end of 2015.

It will bring major improvement including the complete cross-compatibility with the offline version of LibreOffice and the ability for users to simultaneously edit documents alongside others in the same way that Google Docs, Office Online and a range of other cloud applications.

It also claims that documents will not lose any features or data no matter how many times they're exported between the offline and online versions of LibreOffice. Collabora thinks it can achieve this "by using the same rendering engine as LibreOffice desktop (via LibreOfficeKit)". In basic terms it means reusing the original LibreOffice C++ source code.

LibreOffice Online won't come fully featured set right off-the-bat. Instead, it will be closer to LibreOffice Editor for Android, which offers a smaller a subset of the features available in desktop versions. There's no time frame on when new features will be added, however, simultaneous editing is expected to be built-in from the start.

What will it cost?

When it comes to price of the new solution, IceWarp's senior marketing associate Michael Filip stated that "IceWarp will be able to offer a highly cost-effective alternative to Office 365 or Google Apps."

Google Docs is of course free, whereas Office 365 Personal runs at £5.99 ($6.99, or AU$9.00) per month for a single user account that includes 1TB of cloud storage. LibreOffice Online is expected to fall in between these two offerings