AbiWord is part of a larger development project known as AbiSource, which aims to create an open source office suite that works across multiple different environments. Although AbiWord is the only practical piece of software to come from the project so far, it’s shaping up to be a very flexible and practical program which has versions that can run on just about Operating System available. We take a look at the program and see how its features stack up compared to those of Word and Writer.

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Installation and Setup

AbiWord installs to around 20MB and although memory usage will depend on how many documents you have open and the complexity of those documents, we found that AbiWord performed close to what OpenOffice Writer can achieve – certainly more lightweight than Microsoft Word.

Ease of Use

At its heart, AbiWord is a no-nonsense word processor program that offers all of the basic document editing tools that most people will require. It provides a feature set that makes it more powerful than most native editing software but less powerful than the commercial rivals from Microsoft and Apple, although this is no bad thing in many respects.

Visually, AbiWord is probably at its weakest. The interface is clean but rather unattractive and it lacks the style many people have gotten used to from more recent office suites. Although style isn’t important to some, the program does look somewhat dated which is a shame considering that underneath the rather generic interface lays a capable word processor.

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All of the important factors such as compatibility with Word documents and the ability to export work in a variety formats are included in the program. It’s worth noting that the newest release of AbiWord isn’t compatible with the docx format used in Microsoft Office 2007, although the format itself hasn’t taken off in many cases due to its own incompatibility with previous versions of Office.

AbiWord offers all of the things you should need in any small business or home word processor such as word count, spell check, headers and footers and much more besides. Surprisingly for a free suite there are also templates available with the default installation.

Although its graphical abilities are lacking compared to other office suites and there are a notable amount of advanced features absent, AbiWord makes up for it by being lightweight and completely free.

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