IN THE beginning was the Word; although, in IT-terms, that is
not entirely accurate. Those of us who first started writing on
computers years ago may fondly remember SuperWriter, StarWriter,
WordPerfect, or Ami Pro. And Apple Mac devotees are more likely to
be familiar with Pages than Microsoft Word.
Most PCs come with free word-processors installed, whether MS
WordPad, or MS Works. Despite this, it is Word, more than any
other, that has cornered the market for word processors in
industry, commerce, administration, and just about all other
professional usage of word processors.
One of the reasons for this dominance has been the difficulty in
sharing documents created on different word-processors. A document
created using one word-processing package or version could not be
opened by somebody using a different word-processor.
Thankfully, however, you no longer have to purchase different
copies of MS Word for each device, as it is available through
subscription. Subscribers can download versions for their desktop,
laptop, tablet, and even mobile phone.
A subscription to the business version of the full Office suite
of software costs £112.32 per year; the personal user can pick it
up for £59.99 per year. For the same price, university students -
and this can include ordinands, if they shell out £12 on an NUS
card - can pick up a four-year subscription.
The biggest challenge to Microsoft's dominance may come from
Google Docs, part of its free office suite of software. Google Docs
is a web-based word processor. You can create, edit, and store your
documents online from the web browser on your PC, laptop, tablet,
You can also work on your documents on the move without internet
access, so long as you use Google's Chrome browser, and have
downloaded the Google Docs extension. This app is available for
Apple's iOS and various Windows platforms. It replaces Google's
QuickOffice app, which is no longer available to download.
If you do not like the idea of storing your documents on a
server belonging to the world's largest search engines (they do
promise privacy), or having to work on documents in a web browser,
then there are alternatives.
The best is Kingsoft Office, by WPS. It is a free full suite of
office programmes, including word processing, presentations, and
spreadsheets, which allows you to save documents in various
formats. And, besides saving documents to your device, you can also
save them to your cloud storage service.
Cnet said that this was "almost too good to be true";
TechRepublic said it was "one of the best office suites on the
market"; and I say it is impressive, and pretty indispensable. I
have used it to write a 1000-word news feature on an iPhone while
sitting on an aeroplane.
Kingsoft Office is available on Android, iOS, Windows, and
Linux, and can be found in the app stores.