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Three Alternatives to Microsoft Word

Updated on May 14, 2013

Microsoft Word is the standard word processor of most businesses, as well as being installed an many, if not most home computers. But just because it is the 800-pound gorilla of word processing doesn’t mean it is the only option out there. What I will do in this article is review both free or low cost word processors that do just fine as a replacement for MS Word.

Note: In this post, I will not be looking at word processors integrated into Office Suites. See my post titled “Alternatives to Microsoft Office” for a quick review of alternative Office Suites, all of which include a word processor.

Abiword is a fully-featured, cross platform word processor with all the functionality anyone would expect from an office application, but without taking up the memory and hard disk space requirements of office heavyweights like Microsoft Word and LibreOffice. Unless you’re looking for a full-fledged integrated office environment, Abiword may be all you need.

Abiword has most of the same document formatting and editing features that one would come to expect from a modern word processing program, and various plugins are available to expand Abiword’s capabilities. There is also the AbiCollab feature, which allows you to collaborate with others on the same document. Editing can be viewed in real time…a very useful feature. There is also the ability to incorporate “Friends” or “groups” and allow for multi-user document administration.

My biggest gripe with AbiWord is that is does not support Microsoft’s latest document format, .docx, which can be a problem when working with others who are using MS Word. Other open source applications have added support for this format, so why not AbiWord? But, other than this little grip, this is a pretty good little program, especially if you are using an older machine or a netbook where computing power is at a premium.

See ABIWORD: A GREAT OPEN SOURCE WORD PROCESSOR for my full review of this incredible word processor.

Jarte is a neat little word processor that is great for people who are working on the go. Based on the WordPad engine, this program can be installed on a USB drive (with plenty of room to spare for documents) for the ultimate in portability.

Jarte does most of the things the average person would expect from a word processing program. Spell checking, dictionary and thesaurus, bookmarking, multiple fonts and formatting…it’s all there. Documents can be opened and saved in multiple formats (including MS word’s .docx format), and the tabbed interface makes managing multiple documents soooo easy.

Atlantis Nova is another lightweight word processor that has many of the same attributes as Jarte. The interface reminds me of pre-2007 MS Office, but the layout of the menus seems disorganized to me. However, if you are familiar with MS Word 2003 (or older), you will soon adapt and begin producing documents in no time. You can create and edit documents using a long list of tools and options, such as choosing fonts, sizes, paragraph setup, tabs, bullets, and other useful features. One thing that really hurt its overall performance was the lack of a spell-checker, which is pretty much an essential feature in a word processor. It also saves files in the unpopular Rich Text File format, another negative mark. It does boast some inventive features like a Zoom option and a calculations tool similar to one on an Excel spreadsheet.

Thanks for reading. I hope you have enjoyed this hub.


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