There are a number of free, open source word processing processing programs that are available for download on the Internet. The most popular by far is Open Office. Open Office offers a full suite of tools, such as a spreadsheet, presentation, and even tools for creating a database. Open Office offers just about the same features and capabilities as Microsoft Word.
If you do not need all of the bells and whistles that Microsoft Word and Open Office provide, and just want a lightweight program that has tools and features that allows you to JUST WRITE, then AbiWord may be worth trying. AbiWord is a word processing program that has been around for a number of years. It is popular among many Linux distributions designed to run on lower end PCs. There is also a version of AbiWord available for Windows. AbiWord uses a lighter foot print on your computer. When AbiWord runs, less processing power is used, and less memory is consumed.
AbiWord works great on a netbook computers. Netbooks have become very popular over the last couple of years. These computers sacrifice memory and processing power so that they can be lightweight and can last a long time using an internal battery. The key to extending the length of time between battery charges for netbooks is to use the least amount of processing. By replacing more CPU intensive programs like Microsoft Word, or Open Office with AbiWord, you will not only see improved netbook performance, but also an improvement the battery performance.
Despite being lightweight, AbiWord offers a variety of tools to help you write more efficiently. Some these features are not even available in Microsoft Word or Open Office. For example, under the tools menu, you can open a window that keeps track of all of your document statistics as you type. If it is important to keep track of your word counts, there is no need to keep checking the statistics. In Microsoft Word and Open Office you need to click an update table each time you want to check your document statistics.
With AbiWord, you can also link your text into google searches. Highlight your text, then click Tools — gt; Google Search, and your default browser will open up with the search completed. This is really helpful if you want to expand upon an idea in your document, or if you need to look up a quick fact to support your idea.
Other tools include a dictionary and a thesaurus. There are two language translators with a choice between using a free online translator or Babelfish translation. Babelfish will only translate up to 150 words at a time. The free translator will take care of an entire document, no matter what the length. Just highlight the text you wish to translate to a different language, select the language, then the text is made available.
AbiWord offers a variety of formats to save your files. It is compatible with Microsoft Word and Open Office formats. The latest version of AbiWord even supports files with the new Microsoft Word .docx extentions.
One thing that is missing from AbiWord, is the ability to export a document to a pdf file using the default installation. However, there are extensions and plug-ins that you can add to the default installation of AbiWord that will allow you to export files to pdf format.
If you are looking for a lightweight, and stable word processing program that is free, then look no further than AbiWord.
Photo courtesy of Jittery Monks