New Version of AbiWord: A Free, Robust Word Processor

by Ostatic Staff - Apr. 02, 2008

AbiWord, my long-time favorite open source word processor, is out with a new version 2.6, including many useful new features. If you haven't used this application before, give it a try, and if you already do, the upgrade is worthwhile. You can browse through the release notes to see how many new additions there are. In particular, many users will appreciate the ability to open files on remote shares, much more flexibility with import and export filters, and improvements to the clipboard and drag-and-drop functions. Many of these improvements make the interface cleaner and snappier.

AbiWord 2.6 is available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. It works smoothly with .DOC, .RTF, .TXT and HTML files, but what long-time users with experience in Microsoft Word (such as myself) appreciate is how faithful to Windows and Word conventions this word processor is. The development effort behind the new version has clearly preserved that faithfulness, and there is now support for native Windows Vista menus. THere is even a new, experimental Ofice Open XML (OOXML) import filter.

If you're brand new to AbiWord, I recommend looking at the online tour and Windows, Mac OS X, GNOME and QNX/Photon screenshots. Especially if you're used to common Windows and Mac word processors, you'll see that the user interface follows standards closely. You can also get documentation online.

Note that the release notes include one heads-up for Windows users of the previous versions of AbiWord who make use of the equation plug-in. The developers advise such users to continue using the previous version for the time being, although the equation plug-in will be added shortly.

AbiWord has a huge matrix of other available plug-ins--worth browsing even if you favor another word processor. Visit AbiWord's download page for more on plug-ins.

Overall, many users will be impressed with this new version of an award-winning word processor, and this app is now mature enough that, say, a small business can easily standardize on it for free without running into compatibility woes, and benefit from very complete cross-platform support.

Have you used AbiWord or another open source word processor that you favor?