What word processor should I buy?

I’m gonna have to acquire my my own productivity software since I’ve lost my job and can’t use my office computer anymore.

Realstically, I think, my choices are limited to Word 2003 or Word 2007, unless you can suggest another program which can open, and save, files in Word 2003 format.

Open Office. Cost: free.

OpenOffice is a free word processor that can open MS Word files. Try that before you go spending money on anything. If you use a Mac, there’s also a version called NeoOffice that has a better interface on a Mac, but less features.

Do you have to save them in that format, though? You’d have a lot more flexibility if you converted them to an open format like Rich Text so you wouldn’t be limited to using Microsoft software and reverse-engineered alternatives like Openoffice.


Yes, I have to save the files as Word documents, because I will be sendiing out stuff like resumes and cover letters, and I can’t aford to confuse the HR secretaries with files they have to figure out how to open.

The Open Source web page says this:

This sounds like you would have to do some kind of conversion to open one of their files in Word, or to open an original Word document in it. Is this correct?

Is there a “Save as filetype …” option so I can spare the recipient the issue of figuring out how to open it. I am operating under the assumption that MS Office is a nearly universal business standard, whether it should be or not. I am also assuming your average secretary is going to be pretty much hopelessly lost if the file requires anything more than a double click to open it.

I am pretty sure there is no conversion needed when opening a file. It just straight up opens it.

As for saving, yes you can choose the different file type you’d like to save it as. The last version of OpenOffice I used it even gave me a prompt asking if I’d prefer to save as a Word file.

I’d go with OpenOffice (being a Linux guy), but might I also suggest AbiWord (also free)? I used it for some command-line batch conversion of Word documents awhile back, and was quite satisfied with the results.

Never used it in its GUI form, however.

I just checked and there is a .doc option to save in with OO. One of the things I really like about it is that its really easy to just export a file as a pdf, which is my preference for sharing files between computers. Granted, at that point its read only, but for my purposes (and for things like resumes), read only isn’t a bad thing.

I could certainly go with a PDF format, and I’m surprised. I know the Acrobat Reader is free, but I thought you had to buy a product that would write it.

PDF is an open, standard format (as of July 1, 2008, according to Wikipedia). It’s not a surprise (to me, anyway) that Microsoft wouldn’t provide native access to a (newer) format that they don’t control.

Really, it sounds to me like there’s a lot of open source software that I think you’d find very useful.

OpenOffice is huge and unwieldy. I recommend ZOHO. It’s a web-based word processor. You can store you documents only or on your PC in a number of formats.

Well, I have updated any software, even at work, in a couple of years. Since this is a relatively recent change I will forgive myself my ignorance.

The reason I posted this thread is that I saw a few recently about what a piece of crap Word 2007 is, with a few dissents. But I’m glad there is an alternative, and since it’s free, there’s not much risk involved.

I’ll give Open Office a shot.

Is it only online? I need to be able to work offline.

There are several free programs like PDF creator and cutePDF that can “print” a PDF file from any program that hasn’t got a native export function.

I hope I didn’t sound critical or dismissive – that wasn’t my intent. Instead, I mean it literally: it sounds to me like there’s a lot of open source software that I think you’d find very useful.

You can edit existing documents offline but that’s it I think.

What about Go-OO? I just came across this. It’s a fork of Open Office developed for Linux, but has binaries for Mac and Windows. It claims it’s better. Anyone have any experience with it?

Been using OpenOffice for my job hunt (which appears to finally be coming to a close). It produces MS Office documents perfectly, which is what everyone insists upon (No PDFs), especially if you are using recruiters that want to put their own headers on your resumes.

Google Documents is a good choice, and has offline access / syncing via Google Gears.

Also free, and you should try it before paying for anything.


Ashampoo Office 2008 and Softmaker Office 2008 also come in free versions. I still prefer my Word 97, but it’s not free.

If you go with Open Office, but also want to sync your documents between computers, you can use Dropbox for that: http://dropbox.com/