The Best Free Alternatives to Microsoft Word

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Galadriel

The codebase of Openoffice and LibreOffice is a mess. Partly written in Java, partly in other languages is hard to maintain. Both office suites, unfortunately, are full of oddities. They have clunky uis. Ans, to be frank, there's lots of issues with Microsoft Office formatss. Example MS Word compatibility: If your doc or docx files are simple text files, it won't give you trouble. But if they contain images, specially the .docx files, you will have a frustrating experience with LibreOffice / OpenOffice.

Kingsoft is a bit better and has a nice ui, but it has a lot of quirks, too (e.g. spreadsheets cannot be used in Europe, because it's hardcoded to use dot instead of comma for decimal separator. It also changes Windows regional settings at every launch of any Kingsoft Office app, making big problems for other apps etc.). Compatibility of Kingsoft Writer with Word is ok, but there are still many flaws that make a file exchange a pain in the a.. in both directions.

I recommend SoftMaker FreeOffice instead. For free, it offers a simple, easy to use, basic featured solution that will run comfortably on slower computers and won’t use a great deal of space and resources. It can import all the latest Microsoft Office file formats faithfully and supports direct PDF exporting. Try it out: freeoffice dot com.

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dbqfan

I have been using Kingsoft Professional and I have had no problems. Kingsoft also has an Android version and a Linux version that are all compatible. I am using Win7 and I have Linux on an older PC that I am experimenting with as an alternate to Win8/Win9. I will not upgrade to Win8 and it looks like Win9 will still have Metro so a Linux PC sounds like the future for me. I actually like Kingsoft Pro better than Word and Excel. I have had no problems so far and the price for the Pro version is only $70. They also have a free version.

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Renegade Knight

I like Word and own most generations of it. Yet I find myself installing Libre Office quite often. As a power user I upgrade, update, and reformat often enough to where I always have to phone Microsoft to get them to allow me to install my paid software.

Dealing with their DRM is really not worth the hassle anymore.

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rawrnomnom

vi is love. vi is life

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hellabrad

That $9.99 subscription price is for Office 365, not Word, and it’s for five licenses plus 1 TB of online storage.

For a page break, go to the Insert menu and click Page Break. Ctrl + Enter will probably work too.

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Ben Kim

Looks like you're right hellabrad. Thanks for the corrections!

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captainjack

I used LibreOffice for a year or two but it had a few persistent bugs that made me ditch it. I never could get Windows to associate word files to open in LibreOffice. I would have to open the software, click file > open and then find the document I wanted. A small annoyance. Automatic software updates never worked for me. What really broke the camels back was a slideshow (I know this article is about word processors) that I had to present. I saved it as a powerpoint document as I had done many times before but when I started my presentation everything was scrambled. Totally ruined my pitch.

So yeah, pretty good software for free, but watch out for document format stuff.

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Gonga

"The main drawback to Google Docs is that there’s no desktop client." No, and everybody here knows why: Google is to be avoided if you value what's left of your personal privacy.

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Renegade Knight

Given Apple and Microsoft are trying to grow up and be Google. Don't hold your breath on privacy for any of them.

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Gonga

This is true. MS's new CEO has said his vision is "big data." However, if you actually read the privacy policies as I have, you'll know the difference between MS and Google right now is very significant. With Microsoft, you have control over ALL of your data. With Google, you have control over "certain" data. And in practice, Google is selling you out to it's "partners," not to mention analyzing every aspect of your total online behavior, and amassing the world's largest repository of such data. Actually, it has to stop.

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Baer

I agree, the price is actually not free but in fact very high if you value any privacy at all. I will stay with Word thank you and so will my company and associates.

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NavarWynn

I had no problem with MS Word (other than the ridiculous price) until the appearance of the ribbon. All the sudden 1/4 of my screen was wasted real estate. -and I couldn't get rid of it!! Even on a reasonably sized laptop, the ribbon significantly detracted from the usability of the software, as you now often had to scroll even to see a 1/2 page down. Suddenly Word took a giant leap backwards, and has remained stagnant ever since. Why the fuck couldn't you even drag it to the freaking side!?! Even the start bar could do that (and had for years).

So I went to OO, and now to LibreOffice. Like old Word, you can completely customize your toolbars (essential for scientific, and engineering writing), and it has all the modern conveniences, like exporting to PDFs.

I don't see any reason to ever go back, nor to ever pay for a word processor again.

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Baer

Un, gee.... I certainly can make my toolbar disappear and I can set custom toolbars, in fact the ability to "make the interface mine" is almost unlimited. Dissing Word for its quality is nuts and just shows that you do not know how to use all its features. If Word were free there would be no real competition.

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DDRDiesel

Not only can you minimize the ribbon (Holy shit no way!), but you can also customize it, as you say, "Like old Word". Literally nothing in your post was researched or factual, let alone informative

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big_montana

Must have a pretty small screen if the ribbon bar takes up 1/4 of your screen. You can hide the ribbon, as in the top right corner, next to Help (the question mark) there is an upward pointing arrow. Click it, yes it is that easy.

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Arnulf

I expected plenty of comments re LibreOffice - it's interesting to see that somebody is actually using Kingsoft stuff.

I'm a LibreOffice user myself and I would like to point out that there are many users like me out there who like the "old" appearance which allows for faster workflow and less screen real estate wasted compared to Microsoft's "modern" interpretation.

This is very much like the "Windows 8 on desktop" thing; the only users who do not mind switching to newer interface are the ones who only use a handful of features and don't know / don't even want to know about the rest.

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trivor

Been using Kingsoft office on the desktop and mobile version for years and with only basic editing needs it has worked very well. The rest of the suite (Sheet and Slides) work quite well also. It is much smaller and faster than the other Open Office choices. Highly recommended.

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Mikey109105

I agree. I've only been using Kingsoft for about a year, having been a user of MS Office for years. I finally decided I wanted to upgrade my word processor, and didn't feel like subscribing to Office 365, so I got Kingsoft and haven't looked back. I don't do any office stuff on my mobile devices, but I do have Kingsoft on my phone just in case I need to edit something quickly that can't want until I get gone.

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BobbyPhoenix

"Kingsoft Writer is developed in Hong Kong and it’s pretty clear from the offset that it’s a Microsoft Word clone." Just the opposite. Microsoft actually copied Kingsoft. If you go back through the history you will see Kingsoft Office came before Microsoft Office.

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Ben Kim

Hey BobbyPhoenix, my research suggests that Multi-Tool Word (later renamed to Microsoft Word) predates the first release of Kingsoft's Word Processor System (the precursor to Kingsoft Office). Feel free to respond back with a link to a credible source that says otherwise and I'll be happy to update the story! 

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SilverSurferNHS

Where's your links?

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Ben Kim

Microsoft's Multi-Tool Word was first released in 1983 and was soon after renamed to Microsoft Word. Kingsoft was established in 1989. Wikipedia suggests that Kingsoft Office originated as "Word Processing System" in 1988, but there's no citation listed and that's still 5 years after Multi-Tool Word.