The majority of computer users is using their computers at least partially to work with documents and spreadsheets. Microsoft Word is still one of the most popular text editing applications on the Windows operating system. It is a professional software program that comes at a price, or does it not? Many users are looking for ways to download Microsoft Word for free, but unless they want to resort to download Word through illegal channels they will come up empty handed in their efforts.
Microsoft is not offering a free download of Microsoft Word, or any other Office application like Excel or PowerPoint. The closes to using Word for free is to use Office Starter which offers Word and Excel free of charge. But there is a drawback to this: Office Starter is not available for download. It is distributed by select OEMs on PCs and notebooks. If you purchase a PC and find it installed you can use Word and Excel for free, if not you cannot.
But what are the alternatives? Windows itself comes with Wordpad, a free software capable of reading and editing Word text documents. Wordpad supports both old Office document formats such as doc but also the XML based Office document formats such as docx.
Word Viewer can only display Word documents. It basically is Word without the editing functionality. Users can view and print documents but that's basically it. Unless there is some obscure file format that is supported by Word Viewer and not by Wordpad, your best bet is probably Wordpad, considering that it is already installed on most Windows systems.
Here is an interesting alternative, as it offers a time-limited free version of Office. Microsoft is offering trials of Office on their website. Users can download those trial versions and install them on their computer systems. The trials are time-limited, which means that they will stop working eventually, unless the user decides to buy the document suite.
Interested users can download trial versions of all Office 2010 editions directly from the Microsoft website. All editions include Microsoft Word and Excel at the least. It may not work forever but this is probably the closest to a free Microsoft Word download you can get. The third party tool Office Trial Extender can be used to extend the trial period of Office for up to five times.
The Internet offers several interesting options for users who need document editing functionality. It may not be for everyone, especially in cases where Internet connections are not available or unreliable, but most users can use free accounts to edit their Word, Excel or PowerPoint documents online.
Docs.com is the official Microsoft platform on the Internet. They have partnered up with Facebook to offer users options to work with Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents online. It is possible to create new documents, upload existing files and share them with friends and colleagues.
When it comes to Microsoft Office alternatives, Open Office is usually the software suite that most users will think off. Open Office basically offers a free Open Source alternative to Microsoft Office. It offers a similar functionality, and comes with Word, Excel and PowerPoint replacements that can read, save and edit the document formats of Office 2010.
Google Docs is a free service by Google, that offers document management capabilities on the web. It basically allows Google account owners to upload documents from their computer to store, work and share them online. The service supports all Microsoft Office formats
Zoho Docs is another online document management service. It offers free basic access with one Gigabyte storage for users who want to edit their documents online.
To get back to the original question of this article: There is no such thing as a free download of Microsoft Word or any other Microsoft Office component for that matter. There are however valid alternatives available both online and offline that most computer users can use instead of Microsoft Office.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.