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As far as word processors go, Microsoft Word is still the king. Even today, we keep discovering hidden Word features 10 Hidden Microsoft Word Features That Will Make Your Life Easier 10 Hidden Microsoft Word Features That Will Make Your Life Easier Microsoft Word is deceptively simple. You are fine as long as you fire up a document and just type. But Microsoft Word wouldn't be the Swiss knife it is without its productive features. Read More  that make our lives easier. And just as surprising, we keep discovering new ways to get access to Word.

Here are all the ways to get Microsoft Word and almost all of them are free.

Word Viewer

Platforms: Windows
Price: Free

word-viewer

Do you just want to be able to view, copy, and print Microsoft Word files offline, but don’t want to pay for it? Microsoft’s Word Viewer is what you need. It’s an officially supported free download, which lets you open any Word file format like DocX How to Open Microsoft Word 2007 DOCX Files How to Open Microsoft Word 2007 DOCX Files Read More , copy the text to another word processor, or print it. You will need the Office Compatibility Pack with it.

Warning: Microsoft will prompt you to download and install other files along with this; make sure you deselect everything except Word Viewer and the Office Compatibility Pack.

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Office Online

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux
Price: Free

The first thing you need to know is that you don’t have to pay for Microsoft Word 6 Ways You Can Use Microsoft Office Without Paying For It 6 Ways You Can Use Microsoft Office Without Paying For It Read More . If you have an active Internet connection, you can use the free Office Online instead.

We can think of a few reasons why you should use free Office Online Don't Pay For Word! 5 Reasons You Should Use Office Online Don't Pay For Word! 5 Reasons You Should Use Office Online Office Online is the free and cloud-connected version of Microsoft Office. Limitations are compensated by features, useful even to users of desktop Office. Best of all is its Read More  instead of paying Microsoft to use Word. For starters, you can access documents through a web browser on any computer. It also accurately retains Microsoft Word formatting unlike other apps. It’s an easy step to cloud computing for anyone who is already hooked into the Microsoft Office ecosystem.

However, you can’t use Office Online without an Internet connection. When you need an offline office suite, fully installed on your own PC, then good old Office is still your best bet.

Office 2016 Preview

Platforms: Windows, Mac
Price: Free Trial on Windows (expires in September), Requires Office 365 Subscription for Mac

office-2016-tell-me

Right now, you can actually download Microsoft Word for free on Windows, thanks to the company’s beta test of the upcoming Office 2016. The Office 2016 Preview can be downloaded and installed to your Windows or Mac computer, without paying anything or even having to save your credit card information somewhere for a future payment. Along with Word, you will also get Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and OneNote.

However, the Office 2016 Preview is only available on a trial basis for a limited amount of time—120 days from when you install it. The program won’t be accessible once the trial period expires, or after Office 2016 is officially released in September.

That said, Office 2016 has smart and subtle changes A Microsoft Office 2016 Preview: Smart & Subtle Changes A Microsoft Office 2016 Preview: Smart & Subtle Changes Office 2016 for Mac was just released and the Windows version will follow in the fall. We show you the new look and features of the world's most popular productivity suite. Will you upgrade? Read More that make it a more powerful application than ever before. Particularly, the new “Tell Me” Box is a great addition, which gives you vital tips and help when you need it most. And in Word, you will also get real-time co-authoring, for actual collaborative work Team Working: 10 Tips For Effective Real-Time Online Collaboration Team Working: 10 Tips For Effective Real-Time Online Collaboration Read More .

If you’re on a Mac, you can just grab Office 2016 as long as you have an Office 365 subscription. More on that at the end of this article.

Download: Office 2016 Preview for Windows and Office 2016 Preview for Mac

Microsoft Word Mobile

Platforms: Android, iOS, Windows 10 (touchscreens)
Price: Free

Recently, Microsoft is making great apps for Android How Microsoft Took Over My Android Phone How Microsoft Took Over My Android Phone It's honestly surprising how many Microsoft apps are available for Android -- and they're really good! Read More and even on iOS Microsoft Loves Apple – These Mac and iOS Apps Prove it Microsoft Loves Apple – These Mac and iOS Apps Prove it Stuffy, boring, insular. These are three adjectives that have been used to describe the Microsoft of yesteryear. But that Microsoft is gone. They've changed. Radically. Read More . The Redmond giant has separated its Office suite into individual apps on mobile operating systems, so you can actually download a full-fledged version of Microsoft Word without needing to get Excel, PowerPoint, and the others. And yes, it’s completely free.

Perhaps the best part about Microsoft Word on mobile is how well it represents documents filled with charts and graphics. This has historically been a problem on most mobile office suites, but such files show up perfectly on Word Mobile, scroll through smoothly without lagging, and are smartly optimized for mobile screens. Indeed, the new Word Mobile apps show why Microsoft is king of the office suites Microsoft Office For Android vs. Google Docs: Which Is Better? Microsoft Office For Android vs. Google Docs: Which Is Better? Read More  and not Google Docs.

Download: Word Mobile for AndroidWord Mobile for iOS, and Word Mobile for Windows 10

Note: If you are on an older version than Android 4.4 Kit Kat, you will need to download Microsoft Office Mobile for Android instead.

Office 365

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Windows tablets
Price: Free Trial and Paid Subscriptions (prices starting at $6.99/$9.99 per month)

If you temporarily need the full version of Word installed on your PC or Mac, you should go with an Office 365 subscription. Until a few years ago, buying Microsoft Office was a one-time cost, but a hefty one. Now, Microsoft has embraced the subscription model, which actually increases the price but makes a lot of sense if you are using Office on multiple computers for your whole family. Plus, there are some cool freebies packaged with it.

So why should you be willing to pay more? The new Office 365 subscription model An Introduction to Office 365 -- Should You Buy Into the New Office Business Model? An Introduction to Office 365 -- Should You Buy Into the New Office Business Model? Office 365 is a subscription based package that offers access to the latest desktop Office suite, Office Online, cloud storage, and premium mobile apps. Does Office 365 provide enough value to be worth the money? Read More not only gets you Word, PowerPoint, Excel, OneNote, Outlook, Access, and Publisher, but it also adds 1TB of OneDrive storage and 60 Skype world minutes.

The Office 365 Home package is available for $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year. If you plan on sharing your Office with members of your family, this is the best value-for-money deal you can get. It basically applies to five users; so you can install Office offline on five computers (PC or Mac), five tablets, five phones, and get the aforementioned 1TB storage and 60 Skype minutes for five users each. And you also get some additional features for Word Mobile on your smartphone:

office-365-mobile-comparison

The cheaper Office 365 Personal package costs $6.99 per month or $69.99 per year, but supports only one user for the storage and Skype minutes, and offline installation on one computer, one tablet, and one phone.

If you don’t like the new subscription model, you can purchase Office at a one-time cost varying from $139.99 to $399.99. Here’s the difference between the Office packages.

Students can get Office 365 for free Students Can Get Microsoft Office 365 for Free Students Can Get Microsoft Office 365 for Free Starting on December 1st, Universities that license Office Education for their faculty and staff can offer students Office 365 ProPlus for free. Read More , if your school supports it. You can check out eligibility on the official site. However, be warned that the 1TB of OneDrive storage is associated with your school’s account, which means a school administrator can change permissions and access.

Like students, non-profit organizations can get Office 365 Nonprofit for free. Professionals can check out Office 365 for Business to find out more plans.

Have You Left Word Behind? Are You Coming Back?

Microsoft Word has always been a fantastic word processor, but its price meant that several users moved away from it. Microsoft seems to be correcting that now, with several ways to use Word for free. If you’re using Word or another Microsoft Office product, it’s time to re-consider which Office suite is right for you Which Office Suite Is Best for You? Which Office Suite Is Best for You? You'll be pressed to find an occupation that doesn't require word or number processing of some sort. And you may wonder, is Microsoft Office really the best solution? Here are your options. Read More .

Are you a Word user who left and is happy with his new home? Are you tempted to come back, with all these new features?

  1. Rob
    May 5, 2016 at 6:32 am

    I recently saw an article on the net saying that Microsoft will block any "free" software one tries to use with the free Windows 10 upgrade. Does anyone know if this true? Also, another article stated a rumor that Microsoft will start charging a monthly or annual fee for updates, possibly on a sliding scale. Does anyone know about this?

  2. em
    March 29, 2016 at 1:14 am

    i am very confused, i downloaded this and now i am not quite sure what to do after that. please explain

  3. Roberto
    January 13, 2016 at 11:05 pm

    Are you sure this is legal?

  4. Andrew Gulak
    August 16, 2015 at 2:27 am

    What? No mention of Open Office? I've used it for years. It's legitimately free, and cross compatible with Word.

    • Tina Sieber
      August 17, 2015 at 1:48 am

      This article referred to Microsoft Word. Other products offer similar solutions, which for most users are equally good, but they are not from Microsoft, so they were not within the scope of this article.

    • Mihir Patkar
      August 18, 2015 at 12:32 pm

      Like Tina said, we specifically wanted to target Microsoft Word users here. I'm not saying OpenOffice isn't good or mocking Kingsoft Office, or anything. But there is a large, large contingent of people who just want good old MS Word. There's no harm in showing them how to get that :)

  5. Selma Silvett
    August 14, 2015 at 4:40 am

    WHY PAY REDICULOUS PRICES--GOOGLE DOCS DOES A GOOD JOB-----I LIKED WORD BUT GAVE IT UP--DO NOT WANT TO PAY FOR EXPENSIVE SUBSCRIPTIONS

    • Mihir Patkar
      August 18, 2015 at 12:34 pm

      I'm a Google Docs user myself, so I see where you are coming from. That said, when I was working in a more formal organization, Word was default. The system was made in a way where working in Word (with all its various formatting) was crucial to the work flow. So like it or not, MS Word was what I had to use even at home.

    • Zion Aikens
      February 24, 2016 at 1:00 am

      Yes google docs is excellent because it's free, but it is lacking compared to word. Google docs doesn't allow online professors to read submitted papers.

  6. Alan Trinder
    August 14, 2015 at 12:16 am

    The problem for me is I have chosen android devices that seem incompatible with these apps. Both my aging Samsung note 10.1 and my Sony xperia z can not have them.

    • Mihir Patkar
      August 18, 2015 at 12:34 pm

      Hmmm maybe the new Microsoft Word for android might not work, but the older Office Mobile surely works?

      • Alan Trinder
        August 19, 2015 at 12:37 am

        Afraid not Mihir, Sony does not seem to be very pro Microsoft :)

        • Mihir Patkar
          August 19, 2015 at 9:05 am

          Oh man, that sucks. Sorry Alan! Maybe try sideloading it?

  7. James Van Damme
    August 13, 2015 at 7:53 pm

    A new version of LibreOffice just came out, and it has improved import and export of Microsoft proprietary formats. It runs on Linux natively (plus other, inferior operating sytems).

    All your "free alternatives" above have reduced functionality.

    • Mihir Patkar
      August 18, 2015 at 12:36 pm

      I'm really not looking for a Microsoft Office vs LibreOffice debate, or Windows vs Linux for that matter. I'm pretty software agnostic myself. What I would be interested in is your opinion on the features that make LibreOffice Writer better than MS Word. Care to expand? Maybe you can change a few minds here :)

      • James Van Damme
        August 18, 2015 at 3:52 pm

        Well, for me it's not Microsoft, it's open source, runs natively on Linux, doesn't have a "ribbon", and it's free and needs no license. I am just retired, but I used to be in an office where everybody else used MS Office, and we collaborated on presentations, spreadsheets, PDFs, and fairly complicated (math formulas, etc) word processing documents. I especially liked how I could open up PDFs, edit them, then save in any other format, including PDF.

        The PC I used was about 2006 vintage and I edited images, sound, and even videos on it, and did schematic diagrams and electronic circuit simulation. I use Linux Mint, which comes with LibreOffice and a bunch of other apps, and it's also easy (and safe) to install other apps.

        I'm sure there are people who just love MS Word's ribbon. Not my intention to change their minds. But if you don't try something else for a while, you never know if you like something better.

        • Mihir Patkar
          August 18, 2015 at 5:30 pm

          Awww how can you not love the ribbon :D

          On a serious note, those are valid points, especially the one about PDF. I think MS has added that now, I'll have to check.

  8. Goog Le
    August 13, 2015 at 6:31 pm

    WPS Office is free, a clone of Microsoft and works awesome :)

    • Mihir Patkar
      August 13, 2015 at 6:47 pm

      Hey, a WPS Office fan! I thought I was among the last few who used it on desktop!

      Word is far better on Windows, imo, especially Word 2016 with the new Help bar. But WPS Office on Linux rocks!

      • Goog Le
        August 13, 2015 at 6:51 pm

        If you are in China, you will meet loads of people, especially students running WPS Office simply because the price is right ;) No doubt though, Microsoft office is nice but I can't justify the price when WPS office does the same job but free.

  9. Steven Hildebrand
    August 13, 2015 at 12:27 am

    Office Online...I liked it better when it first came out, when it was called Google Docs. ;)

    • Mihir Patkar
      August 17, 2015 at 2:30 pm

      Hahaha troll!

  10. Joe Sorrentino
    August 12, 2015 at 11:39 pm

    Though not free, a lot of corporations are part of the Microsoft Home User program allowing employees of these companies to purchase full blown office for $9.95. You will receive a download link with your key. If you want a physical disc, it's another $20. A great deal not hevily advertised in most companies. Search for the HUP website and entrer your corporate email address to see if your company is a member.

    • Mihir Patkar
      August 17, 2015 at 2:31 pm

      Oh wow, I had no idea about this. Thanks Joe, this is great information!

  11. prittman
    August 12, 2015 at 5:46 pm

    If you absolutely have to have Office with mobile/online access, I can see why some would want Office 365, especially with a low monthly price of $7. Just keep in mind that you can get an installed version of Office 2013 for $120 on amazon, which means that if you can live without the cloud access of 365, if you plan on using Office more than 18 months your one time purchase on amazon will be cheaper in the long run. I've been using Office 2010 for 5 years now and buying the installed version has saved me a ton of moolah.

    Of course, if you prefer OpenOffice or LibreOffice, you don't have to pay anything, but I like the additional features that MS Office brings (such as speed, for one, although there are others) and so I use MS Office.

    • Mihir Patkar
      August 17, 2015 at 2:35 pm

      The cloud integration seems like a good future-proof way of using it, right? For me, the $10 monthly price for a family is the big seller for Office 365, more than $7 per person. At $10 for 5 members, it works out to a great deal. What do you think?

      • prittman
        August 17, 2015 at 5:42 pm

        I can see how 5 people using MS Office for $2/mo sounds good. But if I had multiple people who needed it, I would then look into buying a larger number of licenses, and installing it. I forget how many devices the Home and Student version is allowed to be installed on.

        If you need cloud acces, looks like you have no choice but to go for 365. But if you are going to work on a desktop or tablet by yourself (without the need for collaboration), I'm still convinced that the old fashioned installed versions will pay for themselves given a few years.

        To each their own. :)

        • Mihir Patkar
          August 18, 2015 at 7:58 am

          Fair enough :) Thanks for the reply!

  12. word
    August 12, 2015 at 2:40 pm

    Why do you guys at MakeUseOf always forget to mention Office 2010 Starter edition when talking about free Microsoft Office versions? Why better than viewer, offline and available for Windows. Basic versions of Excel 2010 and Word 2010 included. That only leaves you to install PowerPoint viewer and you're good to go with Microsoft Office without paying!

    • Mihir Patkar
      August 27, 2015 at 5:49 pm

      I think I mentioned this in a previous post, not sure, but here's why:

      Office 2010 Starter is no longer officially supported by MS and not officially offered as a download.
      Its ad-supported nature make me vary of the safety of those ads, given that MS isn't officially supporting it.

      Plus, honestly, I never liked Starter edition much. It missed far too many features in Word.

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