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We have been migrating several PCs, laptops, etc to Linux and one of the most common issue we have is with users attempting to format documents previously created with Microsoft Office of varying versions e.g. 2002, 2007, 2010, etc. We have tried LibreOffice and OpenOffice but lose most of the formatting and users are having to resort to virtual instances of Windows which we would like to avoid. Are there suites that preserve the formatting set out by documents created using Microsoft Office?

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There's no alternative that I know of that converts MS Office's files perfectly.

  • MS Office can read and write ODT since version 2007, so you could test if MS Office handles the .odt files better than LibreOffice handles .doc(x) files.

    In Word, try saving a few documents as ODT and open them in LibreOffice to see the results. If that works, you could batch-convert all your document to ODT at once.

  • If you're stuck with MS Office but don't want to resort to virtual machines, you can always install Microsoft Office using Wine.

    The easiest way to install MS Office using Wine (that I know of) is PlayOnLiinux, which is based on Wine and

    [...] a piece of software which allows you to easily install and use numerous games and apps designed to run with Microsoft® Windows®.

    Tutorial from makeuseof: How To Easily Install Microsoft Office 2007 On Linux

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Thanks for an alternative however don't see PlayOnLinux being deployed all PCs and laptops in the office. Are there any other options? – PeanutsMonkey Apr 11 '12 at 6:36
Great. Wasn't aware that Microsoft could read and save ODT files. Just tried it and the documents do lose some of the formatting as opposed to most. – PeanutsMonkey Apr 11 '12 at 20:51

Unfortunately most of the layout options in older versions of MS Office are in fact specific to that version of MS Office; this can be seen in the inane tags that were added to MSOXML and OOXML strictly for the purpose of retaining that layout. Sadly, the only scalable solution is to abandon the layout from the documents written in older versions of MS Office and reflow them in a modern product.

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Thanks. So there is no office suite we can use in Linux to retain the formatting of the latest version of Microsoft Office? – PeanutsMonkey Apr 11 '12 at 6:35

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