There's no doubt that Microsoft Word is the best word processing program around. Like most luxury products, however, it comes with a hefty price tag. Even if you decide to get a Microsoft Word trial, you can't download the program individually - you must download the whole Microsoft Office suite, and it's a monster. Even once you manage to get the beast installed on your machine, you'll only be able to use it for 60 days before you need to pay up nearly $400!
So, what's to be done? Luckily, there are a bunch of great free Microsoft Word alternatives, each of them perfect for a different purpose. Keep reading, and we'll show you how to get all of the functionality without the tyranny of Word!
Just need to read a Word document?
If you just need to read a Word document, but not change or modify it in any way, then you have things really easy. Just download Microsoft Office Word Viewer, an official Microsoft product that does exactly what it promises - it lets you open and read Word documents, even if you don't have the program installed!
Complete Office replacement
OpenOffice.org is one of the first Office replacements that pops into peoples' minds. There's a good reason for this - it's probably the most complete on offer. Of course, the Word alternative - Writer - is one of its major components. Although not quite as user-friendly, it's the closest to Microsoft Word and the other apps that make up Office. It's also available for Mac.
Don't like OpenOffice?
If you've tried OpenOffice but weren't impressed, check out LibreOffice. The Word alternative here, Text Document, is highly versatile and, as an added attraction, looks like older versions of Word, which is perfect for nostalgic types who have never been able to love the ribbon interface! Also available for Mac.
Freedom from the desktop
If you're happy about working online, then you'd be mad to miss Google Docs Document feature. The Google Docs suite - available as long as you have a Google account - is absolutely perfect for basic documents, and you'll be able to format, print and save to your desktop with the greatest of ease. It's also compatible with Microsoft Word, so even if you create a document online, someone opening it in a desktop app will have no problems at all.
Diehard Word fans
If you've tried the others, but still miss the familiar, flexible landscape of Microsoft Word, then you have to check out the Word app that comes as part of Windows Live Office. OK, so you'll need a Windows Live account to use it, but once you're in, it's like a pared-down version of the Office classic. It saves to .DOCX and has exactly the same layout of the desktop app, so you'll feel at home almost immediately.
Is there another app that you use instead of Microsoft Word? If we've missed it, let us know in the comments below and we'll review it as soon as possible!