AbiWord is a free word processing program that can be used to open and edit popular file formats such as Microsoft Word .doc and .docx files. It's a great alternative to using Microsoft Word if your computer doesn't have it or if you don't want to spend the money to buy it.
AbiWord is open source software and can run on many platforms such as Windows, UNIX, Linux and Mac. It can read and write all industry standard document types including OpenOffice, Microsoft Word, WordPerfect and Rich Text documents as well as HTML web pages. Some of the features that come with AbiWord include the ability to do bullet lists, tables, footnotes, images, endnotes and styles. It even has a mail merge feature that allows you to take data from databases and spreadsheets etc. AbiWord also features a built in spelling and grammar checker as well as support for multiple languages.
Once you download the installation file you will double click it to start the setup. One of the first screens you will see is the installation options window. Here you can customize your AbiWord installation by selecting which components you want to install. You will have options such as associating your .doc and .rtf with AbiWord, installing a grammar checker, Google and Wikipedia search integration, additional file format support such as XML, adding clipart and installing additional dictionaries.
After the installation is complete you can open AbiWord and start writing your documents. You will notice that the interface is very similar to other word processors such as Word and WordPerfect. There are the typical File and Edit menus that you are used to seeing in other programs as well as the common save and print icons. Other toolbar items include formatting options for things such as type size and fonts as well as creating lists and changing font colors etc.
AbiWord does a pretty good job of opening existing documents and keeping the formatting of other documents that were created in other word processors. When you save a new document you can use the default AbiWord .abw file extension or save it as another format such as a Word .doc file type. If you open an existing document and click save then it will keep the same format unless you specify another file type by choosing Save As.
Try out the software on their website and decide for yourself if it's a good replacement for those more expensive pay for word processing programs.