For years, the “be-all” and the “end-all” of word processing has been Microsoft Word. And, certainly, the great tools imbedded within this software, and all of its regularly-improved versions, have allowed it to dominate the word processing world for years. What many don’t realize, however, is that there are many free alternatives to Word, and they offer much of what the majority of us actually use the most. The following is a short description of the free alternatives to Word that offer the same great features and that are compatible with Word formats.
Google Docs: If you have a Google account, you can access this word processing software for free. First launched in 2007, it has steadily improved. One of its best features is that it allows several users to work on the same document together, with a built-in chat feature to boot! While it is easy and user-friendly, the one drawback is that it can only be accessed through a web browser on a PC. The individual who needs basic word processing features will love Google Docs!
Apache OpenOffice Writer: The biggest “turn-off” for users of OpenOffice Writer is that it “looks” dated and old. Yes, it does actually look old. But it is amazingly current in all that it can do. One of the differences is to have the toolbar on the side rather than on top, but this is a minor difference to which anyone can adjust. It is one of the very few word processing programs that is open source, as well as free.
Word Online: Owned and operated by Microsoft, this may be a choice of many because it is, after all, a Microsoft product. It provides a very basic model of Word, and users can type up letters, school assignments and such, but any more complex formatting is fraught with difficulties. This is a basic word processing program, but it is only a bit better than WordPad.
Kingsoft Writer: This is a word-processing program developed in Hong Kong that replicates Microsoft Word almost exactly, with a few new and innovative features, such as the convenience to work on several document at once within the same window. The other great feature is that, unlike other free Word alternatives, this program works beautifully with Word documents without any format issues, as is often the case with other programs. One drawback – it will not translate, so only English can be used. There is, as well a paid version with a few more features, but a basic user would not need them.
LibreOffice Writer: Another open-source product, LibreOffice mimics Apache OpenOffice, with some additional features that make it quite attractive. It looks like Apache OpenOffice, and those have used Apache will adapt with ease. The additional features, such as embedded fonts, however, make it superior.
If you can afford Microsoft Word, it is still the most popular and most used word processing program, and you should purchase it. If price is prohibitive, or if you are a strong proponent of open-source, however, you obviously have many options. Dependent upon your needs, you should try these other programs and pick the one that serves your purposes well. Personally, I like Kingsoft and LibreOffice, but you must decide for yourself.
Author Bio: Eileen Archer is currently a resident blogger and a chief writer at EssayPlanet.org and has researched and written on a number of topics affecting secondary and university students. After obtaining a Masters in English language she decided to dedicate her time to creative writing as well as providing assistance to students.