Even before Microsoft started charging yearly for it’s Office suite, people have long been searching for alternatives to Microsoft Word. Whether by choice or necessity, not everyone has Microsoft Word installed on their computer and indeed, with a yearly subscription to MS Office costing $69.99, not everyone can afford to. It used to be almost standard that new Windows computers would come with at least a free trial of Office, if not the full software already pre-installed, but that is becoming a thing of the past. Word used to be the standard word processor used by companies and businesses but that has changed recently, and personal customers are voting with their feet too. Office Online, Microsoft’s online version of its Word, Excel and Powerpoint programs, at least negate having to pay for the programs, but their functionality is limited and the online version does not do away with Word’s disadvantages.
Apart from the cost, there are a number of reasons why you may not want to pay the $69.99 per year to download Office or the $109.99 for Word alone- Microsoft Word documents are notorious for changing formatting when being read by other word processors, other versions of Word and even the same version of Word on another computer. The OOXML file format was meant to eliminate this problem but it has been far from solved. Why pay so much to create documents that may lose their formatting when being sent to someone else, especially when formatting can be so important?
Word documents are also not completely safe as they can harbor macro viruses which infect the files and templates on your system, even Microsoft’s website contains warnings and information on these viruses which does not inspire confidence in the choice of Word as a text editor. Furthermore, for those of us that upload content or blog posts to the web, drafting them in Microsoft word over other processors can disrupt HTML and change the appearance of previously perfect web formatting.
If you’re ready to give up with Microsoft and look for alternative, our list of the best alternatives to Microsoft Word will point you in the right direction.
The free OpenOffice software is one of the most used alternatives to the Microsoft Office package that can be installed on Mac, Windows and Linux, and it includes the ability to create spreadsheets, presentations, formula, databases and drawings as well as text documents. The Word equivalent in OpenOffice is called Writer and it has all the layout and styling options that you would expect from a good word processor as well as being able to read and write Word files. It includes helpful features such as the AutoCorrect dictionary which checks your spelling as you type, while the AutoComplete feature suggests the ends of common words and phrases to complete what you’re typing mid-word. The thesaurus option on right click is a very useful addition that makes writing documents that much easier, plus Writer has a clever automatic document recovery tool for the times the program is accidently closed without you having saved your work which makes it a much better alternative to Microsoft Word.
OpenOffice Writer can save documents in its own OpenDocument format or in MS Word’s .odt and .odtx formats, as well as HTML and PDF formats which makes this an incredibly useful tool to have as an alternative to Word.
LibreOffice is another free package that rivals the Microsoft Office package, including a database program, formula editor and charts creation module which can be called from any of its other programs. LibreOffice is available to download for Mac, Windows and Linux. Writer, the LibreOffice text editor utilises the AutoCorrect and AutoComplete features that make OpenOffice great, as well as including templates to give your documents a professional looking edge which makes it a great Microsoft Word alternative.
OpenOffice Writer can read and write MS Word documents to enable you to share and edit files, plus it can also save in PDF format and share files directly to CMIS-based content management systems such as OneDrive.
AbiWord is a free word processor that will run on Windows, Mac, Linus and more. It is able to read and write documents from MS Word, OpenOffice, WordPerfect and also RTF and HTML pages too. The built in spellchecker is useful for checking text but also contains over 30 languages, plus AbiWord supports left to right and mixed mode text which is great for international languages such as Arabic. This is a great replacement for Word because, while the program is small in itself, plugins can be selected to enhance AbiWord’s functionality such as image importer, grammar checker, thesaurus and command line control.
Google Docs is a free online alternative to Microsoft Word that provides the same level of formatting options and functionality as downloadable text editor applications. The advantage to editing documents online is that the document is automatically saved at regular intervals you can view and roll back to previous versions as needed. In addition, you can allow people to view or edit the document in real time collaboration and chat with collaborators inside the document. Google Docs allows you to download your documents and save them in different formats including Word, OpenOffice, RTF, PDF, HTML and zip.
Google Docs is part of a group of online applications by Google that includes Sheets which allows the viewing and editing of spreadsheets and Slides which allows you to create presentations.
ThinkFree Office is comprised of three elements- Write, Calc and Show, which allow you to edit documents, create spreadsheets and create presentations respectively. Write was designed to be fully compatible with MS Word documents in their formatting and file types, and as such the program also has almost the same functionality as Word so there is no retraining needed. ThinkFree offers two options for using its Write software- online for free which requires Java, or as a download of the ThinkFree Office application which is available for Windows, Mac and Linux and costs $59.94 including 24 months of updates. ThinkFree also offers dedicated tablet and smartphone applications which allow you to edit files on the go.
It may seem counter intuitive to pay for a Microsoft Word replacement when you can get one for free, but if you’re looking for a close replica and the full functionality of word then the ThinkFree software can’t be beaten. Considering a personal one year subscription to MS Office costs $69.99 and Word alone costs $109.99, then it is a much better deal to download a lifetime license to ThinkFree for just $59.94.
We hope you would find these Microsoft Word alternatives pretty easy to use and easy to find as well. Do you know any other alternate to Microsoft Word that we could add to our list? Join the conversation below.