Software Review – AbiWord

I haven’t done a software review in a while, why don’t we do one of those today?

So, here I am, using AbiWord instead o’ using regular Word.

Why, you ask?

There’s a number of reasons for it. For one thing, MSWord is expensive. I can’t afford to upgrade anymore. And it’s not easy to get a pirated copy like it was back in the day. Got a buddy who works for a major corporation? He coulda gotcha a free licensed copy, enterprise probably, and it wouldn’t require registration. Just load and go. Now? No way. Now, MS is checking everything. You go to their web site, you get a proctological exam before you can do anything. They’re checkin’ all the holes, dude, and makin’ it tough. Not that I blame ’em — I mean, they “lose” billions on piracy … right? So, get things on the up-and-up, and everyone’s happy. Even MS.

Fair enough. But at something like $500 a crack for the suite (and it’s not worth getting individual packages for something like $300 each when the whole suite is “only” $500), I just can’t do it. Same to you, Adobe and your Creative Suite. You can exsanguinate someone else; I’m not going for it anymore.

So now I look for free, or at the very least, inexpensive alternatives to products I would have gotten for nothing before. Uh … yeah, something like that.

It has a few nice features. For one thing, it allows you to customize the screen background color, and select the font and color you want. While Word lets you do something similar, you can’t change the horrible, harsh white of the background unless you want the OLD Word look (think: DOS days) of blue with white text. So that’s a cool touch. I ended up changing my default template to be a nice, soft gray-green color with Verdana font instead of everyone’s default Times New Roman (wtf with that, anyway?).


2 thoughts on “Software Review – AbiWord

  1. AbiWord had a grammar checker, too, doesn’t it?

    I played with it for a little while one day. There were two things that killed it for me, though.

    1) At the time (maybe there is now) there was no direct to pdf export. In OpenOffice, you just click the little button and poof, you have a pdf.

    2) The page and paragraph layout functions. In OpenOffice, you can preset a lot of formatting things. It’s really slick how you can assign styles and layout things with minimal work. I can do a print layout for a softcover book in a matter of minutes. Example -> You assign a paragraph to be a Chapter heading, it automatically knows that the next paragraph starts a ways down the page, has no indent, and has a drop cap to start. The next paragraph (and each following) has regular spacing and indenting. Maybe there is a way to do this in AbiWord, but I couldn’t find it.

    I don’t think I described that very well.

    Anyway, space on my harddrive (or any of my thumb drives) is no longer a real constraint, so I go with OpenOffice.

    The only thing Word has that no one else seems to have is an outline view, which is very useful for working on long documents.

  2. Bryce — Hey, thanks for the insight. No two ways about it, AbiWord isn’t the most feature-rich word processor out there. But it does do styles. That might be a new addition to their formatting tricks, but I’m not sure how much they allow and don’t. And, I might not be getting the full AbiWord experience because I’ve loaded a portable version.

    Like you, I don’t have problems with drive space, but I know some folks who read my blod have problems with insufficient memory and older machines. I just like suggesting new stuff to them so they have the option.

    By the way, I’ve heard the Outline View in Word is a joke. I’ve never used it, though, so I can’t say one way or another.

    Like you, I didn’t care for everything in AbiWord, but the things that make it a stand out for me are:

    1) The portability. I like taking my stuff with me. While other office suites and word processors run portably, too, AbiWord seems the best mix of features and bloat, with a perfect price point for me. πŸ˜‰

    2) The speed. I like how it loads and shuts down pretty quickly. That’s key for running on a USB drive, unless you drop the nickel(s) for a high-speed one. Even then the USB buss isn’t as fast as your HDD buss, so … gotta be aware of it. I do — not everyone. πŸ˜€

    I like’s price, I like the featureset. What I don’t like is the way the entire suite takes SO much room, and EVERYTHING takes FOREVER to load. It used to take — and this is on my full desktop PC at home — about 40 seconds to load everytime I launched it. Not sure what that’s about, but it was painfully slow. Compared to the MS Office suite, and some others, the performance problems were just awful.

    On the bright side, it’s really close to Word in features and does a NICE job of being portable AND free. I think the only real issue I have is the speed, but that’s not a problem for most folks.

    Anyway, you’ve pointed out some good things there that I should have considered in my review. I don’t know if a newer version of AbiWord’s been released in while, but this one seems different than one I used about six months ago.

    Thanks for coming by and providing the help! I really appreciate it, bud!

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