Microsoft Word Free Download, Is There Such A Thing?

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 22, 2010
Updated • May 22, 2018
Microsoft Office, Software

The majority of computer users uses 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 even though free alternatives such as LibreOffice or Google Docs are available.

Word 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 downloading 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 closest 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.

Note: OneDrive customers may create and edit Office documents online for free. Microsoft released apps for Windows 10 to edit and create Office documents on small-screen devices. Android users may use Office Mobile apps for free to do the same thing.


But what are the alternatives? Windows itself comes with Wordpad, a free software capable of displaying 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.

Microsoft Word Viewer

Update: Word Viewer has been retired. It is no longer available.

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.

Office Trials

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 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.

Update: has been retired. It is no longer available. 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.

Open Office

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.

open office


LibreOffice was created after developers of OpenOffice split from the project to create the new open source document editing and viewing software. It is updated regularly and probably the Office alternative with the richest set of features.

Google Docs

google docs

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

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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  1. Eva Marie said on October 30, 2013 at 11:26 am

    Thank you for this helpful information. I was very concerned because I do not want to download anything if it is not legal and really free. But many of my friends think that it is alright to download Microsoft Office Home from websites that offer it. How come nobody seems to be aware that it is not for free and it seems to be an accepted practice? What are the penalties for this? Will the people who downloaded this out of ignorance be asked to make a payment?

    1. Anonymous said on January 10, 2014 at 1:51 am

      We are all have paid too much for a computer to buy the software we need for work. I think it is all included in the price of our computer. I hate to pay twice.

  2. Miss Moppet said on April 7, 2011 at 10:52 am

    For 15 years I’ve used WordPerfect a far superior programme to MS Word. “Reveal Codes” shows exactly what is happening behind the hood, making it easy to pull out bastard codes particularly when importing off formats. Great pity that the mightier marketing muscle of MS has convinced the world that Word rules.
    Ask any professional secretary older than say 45 whwo was trained on it . . .

  3. miki said on February 24, 2011 at 8:58 am

    stories!!! even WORD 2000 actually impossipble to download free without a haker link

  4. Didos said on November 27, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    Have you ever considered SSuite Office as a free alternative?

    Their software also doesn’t need to run on Java or .NET, like MS Office and so many open source office suites, so it makes their software very small, efficient, and easy to use. :)

  5. diyfan said on November 24, 2010 at 10:06 am

    did some try the kingsoft office? the personal edition is free

  6. Jim Carter said on November 23, 2010 at 12:57 am


    Another excellent post! At one time I’d estimate that 90% of my customers thought Microsoft Office was free. I’ve tried to educate them, but an article like this helps to reinforce my assertion.

    Jim Carter

    1. Martin said on November 23, 2010 at 9:10 am

      Jim glad you like it. I ran into a few people myself who thought that :)

  7. Dan said on November 22, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    Microsoft Word 5.5 for DOS is available for free, legal download from Microsoft itself. Note that you cannot open any doc files produced by Word for Windows in the last 15 years. But it can open RTF files, with some loss of text formatting. I have it installed in an MS-DOS USB drive. :-)

    1. Hans W. said on November 22, 2010 at 10:37 pm

      My right hand can open papyrus rolls! :-)

      1. DNS666 said on November 23, 2010 at 4:12 am

        There’s an app for that.

  8. Suzuna said on November 22, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    There’s another office alternative from IBM called “Lotus Symphony” that is free, which can open/create word, spreadsheet and powerpoint files.
    It works quite well with the new docx format as well. (As least when I checked it, it can open and save the file using docx, and looked good in office 2010)

    1. DNS666 said on November 22, 2010 at 2:52 pm

      Lotus Symphony is based on OpenOffice.

  9. Bobbimo said on November 22, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    I have been using a free word processor called Jarte. It is really an enhanced version of Word Pad.
    It works quite well for me and I have never felt the need to use something else.

  10. rob said on November 22, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    wordpad on windows xp can *not* open .docx formats. only .doc, .rtf, etc files are supported .

    1. Bart Degryse said on November 22, 2010 at 2:19 pm

      Of course not. Neither can Word 95.
      The article doesn’t claim Wordpad to be forward compatible.

  11. DNS666 said on November 22, 2010 at 1:47 pm


    Wordpad on Windows 7 is definitely *not* able to open legacy *.doc formats. Only newer *.docx files are supported.

    1. DetectiveKitty said on June 29, 2011 at 7:10 pm

      agreed, I can’t open .doc files with my wordpad either and I’m also using a windows 7. and i need to for my summer school course and I can’t find a way to open it….

    2. Martin said on November 22, 2010 at 2:30 pm

      Wordpad on Windows 7 can open doc, rtf, docx, txt, odt and a bunch of other formats.

      1. Steven Latus said on January 1, 2011 at 8:58 pm

        I have Win 7 Home Premium 64-bit and also Word 2003. I can open DOC files with Wordpad (didn’t even realize I had it – I never use it so I never looked for it), but there is a problem displaying formatting correctly – it throws lots of gibberish onto the display. It does show the text within the file, but otherwise it is not up to the task.

      2. DNS666 said on November 22, 2010 at 4:06 pm

        No. Just google it. The internet is full of Win7 users complaining that they can’t open their old doc files in Wordpad. The same is true for my Win7 Ultimate setup. It might work if Word is actually installed on the system, but on a vanilla setup, Wordpad will not properly open doc files. Period.

    3. Bart Degryse said on November 22, 2010 at 1:58 pm

      I don’t agree DNS666. It works for me.

      1. DNS666 said on November 22, 2010 at 2:10 pm

        Well, you are wrong.

  12. M. Fawzi said on November 22, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    Thanks for post.
    I have some suspicious about the legibility of using office trial extender. Could you clarify?

    1. Martin said on November 22, 2010 at 2:39 pm

      Well the program uses the rearm feature which is provided by Microsoft

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