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Does the enterprise have a viable Microsoft Word alternative?

Microsoft Word may be the go-to application for word processing, but there are solid alternatives that organizations can turn to instead.

A shoe can't fit everyone's foot. Microsoft Word won't work for every business, but there are other options for companies looking to try on some new kicks.

It is no surprise that Microsoft Word dominates the enterprise. The capabilities -- ranging from tracked editing, legacy compatibility mode and Outlook email integration -- make it hard to beat. There are obvious advantages to using Word, but viable Microsoft Word alternatives do exist for organizations that want or need something different. Step out of the comfort zone and into these three word processing suites.

LibreOffice

LibreOffice is designed to do almost everything that Microsoft Office does.

One flexible Microsoft Word alternative is LibreOffice. LibreOffice is an open source suite that runs on Windows, Mac, Linux and a variety of mobile platforms. LibreOffice is designed to do almost everything Microsoft Office does. The software's real claim to fame, however, is that it supports a number of document and image formats that Office does not. LibreOffice has especially good support for legacy document formats, and IT could conceivably use it as a utility for converting aging documents to a modern format.

FreeOffice

Another potential Microsoft Word alternative is FreeOffice. Like LibreOffice, FreeOffice is an entire suite of productivity applications. TextMaker is the FreeOffice word processor. TextMaker's menus and toolbars should be familiar to anyone used to working with Microsoft Word. The application contains the same basic feature set as Word, although it is not quite as feature-rich.

Perhaps the best argument in favor of using FreeOffice is that it can import Microsoft Office documents without causing any formatting issues.

Google Docs

Google Docs is a free, online word processor from Google. Google Docs looks and feels a lot like Microsoft Word, but it doesn't have quite as many features as Word 2016. One of the best things about this Microsoft Word alternative is that, because it exists in the cloud, it's great for collaboration. Multiple authors can work on a document simultaneously, and it is also possible to view the most recent document changes -- as well as who made the changes -- or the full document history.

One caveat with Google Docs that takes some getting used to is that it does not have a save command. Because Google Docs is designed for real-time collaboration, documents save automatically as users make changes. Documents save to Google Drive, but users can download a copy of a document if they need to. The download option supports standard formats, such as DOC and PDF.

Next Steps

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This was last published in July 2017

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