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10 Free MS Word Alternatives

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While many people believe that they are “locked” into using Microsoft Word for all their document creation needs, it simply isn't true. There are many free alternatives to the costly application from Microsoft, many of which are free. Today we're going to talk about ten alternatives to Microsoft Word that you can quickly and easily start using today. Some will be online and some will be downloadable applications that can be installed on your local computer, but all will enable you to wean yourself off of Microsoft Word and still be productive.

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									While many people believe that they are “locked” into using Microsoft
Word for all their document creation needs, it simply isn't true. There
are many free alternatives to the costly application from Microsoft, many
of which are free. Today we're going to talk about ten alternatives to
Microsoft Word that you can quickly and easily start using today. Some
will be online and some will be downloadable applications that can be
installed on your local computer, but all will enable you to wean
yourself off of Microsoft Word and still be productive.

Over the past few years many alternatives have been emerging to Microsoft
Word and Office. A notable freely downloadable option is OpenOffice which
has been in development in one form or another for almost twenty years.
One of the newer and more well-known online options is of course offered
by those masters of online applications, Google, in the form of Google
Documents. So let’s get started on the tour of ten free alternatives to
Microsoft Word.

Downloadable Applications:
Some people are simply not ready to cut the ties to their local computer
and put all their work online, so for you we have several applications
which are open source and freely downloadable to be installed on your
local computer and which don't require an internet connection to
function.
Open Office

OpenOffice.Org

This package actually includes five programs that all use the same engine
making them inherently the same and extremely easy to learn and use. The
5 are: Writer (word processor), Calc (spreadsheets), Impress
(presentations), Draw (graphics) and Base (database manipulation). Writer
can even natively do some things that Word cannot, like open PDF files
without the addition of a plug-in or commercial add-on. As the software
is open source it is maintained by a large community meaning help and bug
fixes are freely available and quickly created. This is perhaps the
leading free alternative to Microsoft Word/Office.

AbiWord

AbiWord

This software is part of the AbiSource project which is aimed at a full
cross-platform application suite meaning you could run it on UNIX, Mac OS
and Windows. The software is fully compatible with not only Microsoft
Word but also OpenOffice.org, Word Perfect and Palm OS. It has advanced
document layout capabilities and can do mail merge as well which allows
you to automatically fill in specific form fields in documents with
information from databases and comma separated or tabbed text files. A
highly useful feature if you have many forms you need to work with at the
office. Additionally the software can be enhanced and expanded with
freely available plug-ins that will give it even more features and
functions.
Jarte

Jarte

Jarte is based on the WordPad Engine, but is still free. There is a pay
version of the software that adds on some extra functionality, but the
free version is more than adequate and fully compatible with Word and
WordPad documents. Features include Windows Vista compatibility, an
ergonomic tabbed interface, small resource requirements and quick loading
time. It also has built-in spell checking and can export to HTML and PDF
files. Jarte allows you to insert images, tables, hyperlinks and
everything else that you have come to expect from Word. Jarte contains no
ads, trial periods or crippled features and is funded through user
purchases of the Jarte Plus version.

Lotus

IBM Lotus Symphony

Yes, IBM is giving away a productivity package, for free. Lotus Symphony
includes a word processor, spreadsheet program and presentation software.
While it was based on an older version of OpenOffice.org, many
modifications have been made to the package making it unique now. Lotus
Symphony Documents supports the open document format (.ODF extension),
Microsoft Office and Lotus SmartSuite files and can also export to PDF.
Tables, charts, shapes and graphics are all present as well as the
standard text formatting options. The software also contains inline spell
checking and correction along with table of contents, footnote, indices
and header/footer creation.

Neo Office

Neo Office

Mac users haven’t been forgotten in the free productivity software
campaign, because Neo Office is made just for them. The package includes
word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, drawing and database programs
and runs on Mac OS X. It also offers compatibility with Microsoft Office
files including most Office 2007 files. The software has been evolving
since 2003 so it is fairly stable and has incorporated a host of Mac
native features. The software also has grammar and spell checking and can
even import images from cameras and scanners as well as Quicktime videos.


Online:
Sometimes it's easier to collaborate online than by editing, saving and
sending the files. These applications will not only let you create the
documents online but also quickly and easily share them with others.

Google Docs

Google Docs
From the minds at Google Labs comes Google Docs which allows you to
create, collaborate and share documents, spreadsheets and presentations.
The interface is cleaner than many of the other alternatives but the
functionality is still all there. While it will automatically save the
file online and store it there, you can also have the documents published
as a web page or emailed as an attachment in Word, ODT, PDF or RTF
formats. You can invite collaborators to work on the document with you or
only allow others to view it without the ability to edit. All it takes is
a free account signup.

Zoho

Zoho

Zoho offers around 20 free online applications including Writer for word
processing. You can link your Zoho account to your Google and Yahoo
accounts as well. The interface on Writer shouldn't cause anyone problems
as it is comfortably familiar. Working online can be hazardous and
there's always the threat of losing data due to lost network connection,
accidental closing of the browser window or browser crash, but luckily
Zoho automatically saves your documents for you, as you finish typing.
You can also insert images from your local computer or from the Web. Zoho
Writer offers all the standard text formatting and document creation
features and can export to DOCX, ODF, PDF, Latex, RTF, TXT and even HTML.
It can plug into Echosign for digital signatures, publish the document to
a blog or make it public for all to see. You can even invite online
collaborators to work on the document with you.

Think Free

ThinkFree

The 'My Office' area of the website includes a Java-based productivity
suite. The site will ask if you want to install the applications to your
computer but this is not necessary for online only usage. As the software
is built in Java it will take some system resources and time but it
caches on your computer so it loads quicker after the first time. The
interface on the program is very familiar looking and should not cause
most users any problems with navigating. Working online can be hazardous
at times and you could accidentally close the application window before
you have saved your document, but don’t worry because it will
automatically dump the file onto your computer when you close the window.
Not the best system in the world but it should save you from having to
completely remake the document.

Ajax Write

AjaxWrite

This newer online application suite includes ajaxWrite, ajaxSketch,
ajaxXLS. ajaxPresent and ajaxTunes. AjaxWrite has been designed to look
like Microsoft Word so everyone will be familiar with the interface. The
application is lacking some of the features that others include, notably
a spell checker, but does include many of the standard formatting options
as well as the ability to include an image from your computer, as well as
drag and drop image insertion from web pages. The application does
respond slower than many of the others and there were problems with the
save option though attempting to close the browser window does ask if you
want to navigate away and discard the changes. Ajaxwrite only supports
Firefox at present with IE support on the way.

Peepel

Peepel

Another interesting alternative is Peepel. With a slick interface the all
browser-based word processor allows you to do typical text formatting,
image insertion from the web (no local computer access) and collaborate
with others on the document. It also has templates for resumes, letters
and business cards. You can store files online and even open multiple
applications in the same browser window at the same time. Applications
available include WebWriter, Calculator, WebSheet and Browser along with
file managers and file manipulation features.


Whether you are looking for a free locally installed Microsoft Word
alternative or an online one for easier collaboration and online file
storage, there are many offerings available. The ten that are covered in
this article are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg but should give
you a good starting point. The obvious giants in the arena are Google
Docs and Openoffice.org which are probably also the most popular though
Zoho does offer a wider selection of applications. In the end the one
that best suits you will be the one that offers the features you need the
most.

Able2doc - converts your PDFs into editable Word documents

While using MS Word can be very difficult, using PDF can be even more
difficult. Investintech publishes a PDF to Word solution called Able2Doc
that has the ability to convert PDF documents to Word efficiently and
accurately. It is a top rated PDF to Word Converter solution that has
been integrated into several of Investintech’s desktop PDF conversion
products.

								
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