Microsoft Office Word Reviews

Microsoft should be ashamed. For. So. Many. Reasons. (Here are some of them.)

Negative Review by JohnFastman
about Microsoft Office Word and Windows 10, LibreOffice, WPS Office Dec 2016

Microsoft is one of the world's richest and best-established software companies. It's incredible to think then that their market-dominating word processor has quite so many awful and ridiculous faults.

MS Word dominates this space not because it's "the best" in any sense; it's simply the most widely used. Long-term users of MS Word will have noticed quite a few of its problems. There are many more than this list mentions.

Below the list of my favourite MS Word faults, I offer a list of alternatives to consider.


It's beyond me how Microsoft are unable to create an office suite (MS Word being a part of that) with any decent stability on THEIR OWN operating system. The number of times I've had the "Word isn't responding and needs to stop..." error drives me to levels of anger few other things can inspire. I've had that for simple and complex documents, for years and for many different Word and Windows versions, and at the least inopportune moments. (Try it when a deadline is looming.) It's still true in 2016 on Windows 10 and Office 365 .
More than this, if it happens to many people, the world over, including at Universities and multi-billion dollar companies... just think of the economic damage this preventable instability is causing. The cumulative cost must be enormous. My guess is that MS don't care sufficiently to fix this because they are the market "standard" and know their product will sell anyway. Whilst alternatives like Libre Office leave much to be desired, I've yet to have Libre Office crash, even on Windows. That suggests the economic damage of using Word IS preventable. I wish there would be legal consequences for MS for this.


Write something in MS Word and automatically Office 365 and Windows will conspire to try to upload it to Microsoft servers using the MS Upload Center. Worse still, it's not possible to switch this off easily - only to "pause" it. Switching it off completely takes a bit of work the average user won't have time or inclination to pursue - which is how MS designed this on purpose (of course!). Because they WANT your files. (Btw, this is done without client-side encryption, so MS can instantly analyze the content of my document.) That is ridiculous, unjustified and unacceptable.

It shouldn't take hard work for me to retain my privacy, and it shouldn't be Microsoft's business by default what I write. The number of cases where that could jeopardize people's personal information in unacceptable ways is enormous: what if MS servers are breached? What if the information is politically sensitive? What if it has health, or human-rights implications?

Microsoft's disregard of all this, and the concerns of its customers rights and concerns is completely consistent with its inclusion of all the other privacy-violating "features" of MS Windows, many of which require workarounds to prevent (I recommend doing this), but which are (now) part of Windows 7,8 and 10.


For years Mac versions of Word (and Office generally) have been clunky, lacking features, unstable and unweildy. The interface has been similar but not the same, meaning that you might have to look for the same feature in a different place on Mac as opposed to on Windows. Given that Microsoft's Windows is a competitor of MacOS, it's hard to believe that's coincidental. If it's not, that means Mac users have been treated on purpose as 2nd class citizens for the misdemeanour of not committing to the MS ecosystem.

Worse still, Microsoft's claimed support for open source doesn't really square with the fact that MS Office (Word included) isn't available for Linux (let alone BSD). It used to be true that, on Linux, MS Word could be run under Wine. It's no longer true for Office 365 (Word included). Is it a stretch to suppose the calculation is deliberate? Mac users are usually inclined to pay more, so let's have a Word version for them, albeit a worse one than on Windows. Linux users are into free (as in beers and as in birds) software, so they won't pay, so let's not bother. Linux/BSD users are therefore treated like 3rd class citizens.

If you pay for Office 365, you can access it online. There, you can use Word - or at least a pared down version of it - whichever operating system you use. However, this means: 1) all your documents will be on MS servers by default (so the same privacy disadvantages as above), 2) you need a Microsoft account and 3) the functionality isn't as good. MS even made their Office suite - Word included - available for free on Android. Perhaps that was their way of fighting the rise of Google Docs. The battle continues, it seems: some users have experienced problems with it on Chrome books (surprise!)


If you haven't yet been sucked into the Microsoft ecosystem and have the chance not to (e.g. because your work doesn't require it), here are some alternatives worth considering:

  • Libre Office: It's free and open source. Works on Windows, Apple, Linux and BSD. It has a lot of the same functionality as MS Office and it's probably the most complete set of tools similar to MS Office. MS Word's counterpart is Writer, which is part of the Libre Office suite. It feels a bit like the older versions of MS Word in its layout. There are use cases where Libre Office isn't sufficient. For example, some - perhaps most - academic publishers don't support it (which is a travesty; although many support LaTeX - see below). Because of its market dominance, Word might also be compatible with various technical drawing programs that Libre Office doesn't talk to in the same way. But for 90%+ of users, Libre Office will be a good MS Office replacement. LibreOffice integrates with some - not all - popular referencing software, including Zotero and Mendeley.

  • WPS Office: This is hard to recommend (but so is Microsoft). This is essentially a carbon-copy of MS Office. It looks, feels and largely works the same way. It opens MS Office files in a way that makes them look more like the original than does Libre Office. It's "free" in the sense that you don't pay for the basic version; more features are available when you pay for WPS. The prices are considerably lower than MS Office prices. However, you have to ask what the catch is. Do you trust your privacy more with a Chinese company offering you freebies than you do Microsoft? How do you choose? What is their code doing behind the scenes? At least Libre Office is open source.

  • LaTeX: This is free and open source, and an excellent Word alternative. If you know how to use it. And there's the catch. It's not a conventional word processor in the style of MS Word or Libre Office's Writer. It's a way of coding your document - a document markup language with many compatible bits of software you can use with it. In the end, it produces better quality, better layout and essentially unlimited options. For example, it integrates with JabRef and other software that gives it powerful referencing and other functionality. The problem is you have to learn the code, write it and compile it. LaTeX users are many and many of them prefer the versatility. If you're not very technical, it's unlikely to be for you, though. It also adds a barrier to collaborating on documents if your collaborators don't know LaTeX.

  • I will NOT recommend Google Docs, Zoho Docs and similar alternatives. They are less well developed than MS Word and because they are web-based, they come with all the privacy problems that uploading your documents to Microsoft would. Admittedly, however, some people will prefer the fact that Google Docs and similar products are available online and therefore on every platform. It's unlikely that Google Docs will integrate with technical drawing documents, or leading reference managers like EndNote, Zotero or Mendeley.

[Edited by JohnFastman, December 31]


Serious, unfixed, unfixable weaknesses 1 Helpful

Negative Review by vectorspin
about Microsoft Office Word Jun 2016

I use this program every day, all day, and I know what it can and cannot do. You probably know most of what Word can do, but extensive use has taught me what it can't do:

  • Export to other formats - HTML, ODT, etc. Just copying and pasting anything but plain text (which sometimes requires pasting into something like notepad first). None of these work or look good. Basically you're supposed to stay in Microsoft land or start over.
  • Nested bullets - it works well initially but after a few weeks on the same document, the bullets panic hard and jump all over the place. It's super annoying and you basically have to start the whole document over again with no formatting and re-add it.
  • Indentation - it doesn't seem to matter what document it is, there's always some indentation oddity. It's somehow connected to the nested bullets problem.

Most users never see these things but relying on Microsoft means that eventually you may get stuck with one of these terrible files. It's a monster and it never gets better. Year after year, Microsoft has all these weird incompatibilities that make it so no one but they can view their files perfectly. In doing so, those broken elements sometimes break catastrophically.

I've mostly used LibreOffice to solve most of these issues but Google Docs works well also. OneNote can address the bullets and indentation problem somewhat but just can't handle anything but the simplest of formatting.


Overpriced standard. 2 Helpful

Negative Review by Eric_S
about Microsoft Office Word and LibreOffice - Writer, Google Docs (Suite), AbiWord Feb 2013

Lets face it, it's the standard.

But not because it's the best. It's not.

Certainly not because it's free. it way overpriced.

It is because it is what everyone uses. In businesses, schools, homes, and it even COMES on many PC's (a stripped down ad serving version).

But that is changing.

  • KingSoft Word is just as powerful, and free.

  • Google Docs is closing in... although I am reluctant to type my personal documents on a cloud owned by a company that makes it's money selling anything it knows about me to anyone who asks. Oh yeah, and... free.

  • AbiWord is like a free Word Lite, and it flies. It is more then many windows users need, and runs on Linux and Mac, too.

  • LibreOffice Writer is ... well still hideous and awkward, but it has dang near all of the features, and it, too, is free.

Personally, I like KingSoft and run my business with it.

Please, like and support anything else. Maybe Microsoft will start pricing their software more reasonably.