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The Four Best Free Microsoft Word Alternatives

Word Processing on a Budget

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Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing program on the market. But, that doesn't mean you have to spend hundreds of dollars on it. There are plenty of free Microsoft Word alternatives. And, these free word processors can open and save Word documents. Check out my top picks for free Microsoft Word alternatives. They're a great way to do word processing on a budget!

1. OpenOffice

OpenOffice proves that free software can be just as good as Microsoft's offerings. 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.

2. Google Docs

Google Docs can't compete with Microsoft Word on features. But, sometimes simplicity is a virtue. Think of Google Docs as a quick, easy, and free word processor without all the bloat of Microsoft Word.

With Google Docs, you don't need to install or save anything to your computer. The software runs directly from your Web browser. You can upload and download documents to your hard drive. Or, save them in your free online storage space.

Maybe you're not ready to give up your desk top word processor. That doesn't mean you can't use Google Docs. The site provides quick access to your documents no matter where you are. You can also share them with others and view them on your iPhone.

3. Microsoft Office Web Apps

The Microsoft Office Web Apps service is Microsoft's answer to Google Docs. Like Google Docs, it is a completely Web-based, free word processing program.

With Microsoft Office Web Apps, you get free editing tools and 25 gigabytes of online storage via SkyDrive. You can access the software and the files from both Windows and Mac machines. In addition to Office documents, you can store photos and other file types.

Microsoft Office Web Apps includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote programs. You can upload directly from Office 2010 or create files online. It's a quick, easy way to share and collaborate on documents virtually anywhere.

4. Lotus Symphony

IBM's free Lotus Symphony office suite has received great reviews and a few awards. Like OpenOffice, Symphony is more than just a word processor. In addition to word processing tools, this free office suite includes a spreadsheet and a presentation program. Most users won't miss the database or drawing program. But, if those are essential, opt for OpenOffice instead.

Lotus Symphony is compatible with Microsoft Office documents. So, you shouldn't have any trouble sharing documents with colleagues and friends. It even has collaboration tools to make working with a team easier.

The free Lotus Symphony suite runs on Windows. And, some users will be surprised to learn that there is also a version for Mac!

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