LibreOffice gets the ribbon

LibreOffice, a free alternative to Microsoft Office, now has an optional ribbon interface.

Version 5.3 is now available with many added features which will be familiar to Microsoft Office users.

Write (equivalent of Word) now has Table Styles and a Go To box which have been in Word for some time. The Page Deck – a sidebar to change page settings would be a welcome addition to Word.


The ‘headline’ change is the introduction of Notebookbar which is a ribbon interface similar to the one in Office 2007 and later.

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We were surprised by this addition to LibreOffice.  Ribbon interfaces have become common in other programs but Microsoft has the rights to the technology.  In 2006 Redmond allowed the ribbon to be used by developers with one major exclusion.

“… if you are building a program which directly competes with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, or Access (the Microsoft applications with the new UI), you can’t obtain the royalty-free license.”  — MS Blog 21 Nov 2006

Maybe the LibreOffice implementation is sufficiently different or the license has somehow expired?

Server based version

LibreOffice has a browser based version, in the same way that Microsoft has Office Online.

With version 5.3, LibreOffice has released the source code for their online version.  Organizations can install LibreOffice online on their servers for staff to use within the company.