Three Free Alternatives to Microsoft Word

Office productivity and power are as free and as close as the Web

Microsoft Word is one of the most popular word processing programs on the market, but that doesn't mean you have to spend hundreds of dollars for your document creation needs. Buying a word processor may be outside your budget, so here are three free alternatives to Word that are compatible with the popular program and help you get the job done.

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Perhaps not as ubiquitous as Microsoft Word, Google Docs is growing in popularity and offers a set of features that approaches those available in commercial word processors.

Google Docs does not offer just a word processor, however. It has expanded into a suite of productivity options that includes Google Sheets, Slides, Forms, and a cloud storage service called Google Drive. The software runs directly from your Web browser, so there's no need to install a program on your computer. Google Drive allows you to save and access your files wherever you have Web access, and you can download your documents to your computer if desired.

What's more, Microsoft Office documents are compatible with Google Docs, so you can upload and edit Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents in Google Docs. More »

Microsoft Word Online is Microsoft's answer to Google Docs. Like Google Docs, it is a completely Web-based, free word processing program.

Word Online offers free editing tools and online storage space in Microsoft's cloud service OneDrive. You can use Word Online from both Windows and Mac machines. Not as feature-rich as the commercial version of Word, Word Online gives you the essentials.

Need more than just word processing? Word Online is part of Microsoft Office Online, an entire suite of Web-based productivity apps. It includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, and other apps. All of these are connected by the OneDrive cloud storage service, so your files are accessible when you need them. More »

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OpenOffice proves that free software can be just as good as the pricier commercial programs. OpenOffice is a full productivity suite with features that rival Microsoft Office.

In addition to Writer, the word processing component, you get a spreadsheet, database program, drawing program, and presentation program all for free. The only thing missing is email. (For email, try Mozilla's free Thunderbird.)

OpenOffice is the most popular free Office suite, and it is easy to see why. Your documents will be compatible with Microsoft Office. And, you get features that let you accomplish exactly what you want with your documents. For those who aren't ready for online software, OpenOffice could be the program for you!

OpenOffice runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux. More »