New LibreOffice release sparks record donations to Document Foundation

Free Microsoft Office rival gets an upgrade

The release of version 5.3 of LibreOffice, the free software productivity suite, has pushed the number of donations to the Document Foundation to a record high, according to the group’s co-founder, Italo Vignoli.

“Donations are the key to the life and development of the project,” he wrote in a blog post.

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Vignoli’s statistics show that there were 3,937 donations made to the Document Foundation during the first 10 days of February, the highest figure for such a period in the group’s history.

Version 5.3 of LibreOffice, released on the first of the month, includes an improved layout engine for more consistent display across different devices, table and cell styles for the Writer and Calc apps, and a host of other improvements designed to make the suite more competitive against rivals like Microsoft Office. It’s also got an experimental new UI option, called Notebook Bar, that is designed to be accessible to users with varying levels of technological expertise.

But the biggest new feature may be the LibreOffice Online source code, enabling users to host their own online instance of the LibreOffice software, a la Google Apps. The idea, according to CIO writer Swapnil Bhartiya, isn’t so much for individual users to roll their own cloud productivity suite, but for ISPs and service providers to have a productivity option to offer their customers.

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