The free software office suite OpenOffice.org is great for many office productivity tasks and in a lot of cases can prove to be very useful. However, it's easy to forget that there are other open source alternatives to OOo for almost all portions of the suite. Also, with the OpenDocument Format (ODF) standard, you can be free to pick and choose which suite you use, as almost all of the alternatives provide good compatibility for ODF.
In this part of this multi-part post, I'm going to look at alternatives to the word processing part of OOo, Writer. There are a couple of major alternatives to OOo in the word processing space.
AbiWord is a very popular alternative to OOo Writer. It is very fully featured and aims to be a viable competitor to similar fully-featured word processors. It supports its own file format as well as ODF and many others including Microsoft Word.
AbiWord is unique among word processors in its drive to become a fully cross-platform word processor. Our source code is carefully written so that AbiWord will run on virtually any operating system with a minimum of time spent on porting. This combined with our support for internationalization (the ability to run AbiWord in many languages) gives AbiWord a massive potential user-base.
Currently we run on most UNIX systems, Windows 95 and later, QNX Neutrino 6.2. We also have a MacOS X native port available. There used to be a BeOS port, but that version has been unmaintained for too long and support for it has been discontinued.
AbiWord runs on Windows, Linux, Mac OS X and more and can be downloaded from the AbiSource website.
KWord is part of the KOffice suite designed for KDE, but it will happily work on any Linux system (and on other platforms too with upcoming ports of KDE). KWord is slightly different to other word processors since it uses a concept of 'frames' similar to desktop publishing applications rather than a more traditional layout system.
KWord is a frame-based word-processing and desktop publishing application. KWord is capable of creating demanding and professional looking documents. Whether you are a corporate or home user, production artist or student, KWord will prove a valuable and easy to use tool for all your word processing and layout needs.
If you are a KDE user already, however, KWord is the word processor that will give you the best possible integrated experience and is well worth a go for other users too. You can find more information about KWord at the official site.
Of course, there are also online alternatives such as Google Docs and Zoho Writer and there are probably more obscure FOSS desktop word processing offerings as well, but AbiWord and KWord are the main free competitors to OOo Writer and are definitely worth a try.
In the next part, I'll be looking at alternative open source spreadsheet applications. Until then!