You don’t need to spend a fortune on Word

As I mentioned yesterday, I was a guest on Edinburgh’s Talk 107 radio station to talk about piracy and things like that. I ended up in a (good-natured) argument with the presenter about software piracy, and he argued that people pirate Word because they need Word. It’s become the de facto standard for documents, so if you want to read ’em you need the software.

Of course, the whole point of talk radio presenters is to wind up people and say “bad” things, but it’s an attitude that I’ve come across quite a lot. I do think the “must have Word” attitude is quite pervasive, but you don’t have to spend a fortune on Microsoft’s flagship to read Word documents. In some cases you can get Word for free; in others, there are cheap and free alternatives. Here’s a few:

  • Get it for free with your new PC. Most big-name firms bundle Works with their PCs, and Works includes Word.
  • Works itself’s around £50 if you shop around.
  • Ability Office is an excellent Office clone, and the cheapest version is £29.99.
  • ThinkFree Office has a free online version. It’s another Office-a-like and it’s quite nifty.
  • is a fully-featured, free office suite, and there’s a stand-alone download for £30ish.
  • is a basic Word-a-like that runs in your Web browser. It’s free (and the block on new sign-ups has been lifted).

And those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head.