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by Phil Ball

Q. Now that Windows XP is no longer safe to use, I've had to buy a new computer. In many cases, I just installed my old programs on the new Windows 8 computer and they work okay. But in some cases, I need some new programs to replace some of my old programs that I have used for years because they simply don't work with Windows 8. Buying the new computer stretched my limited budget and I can't afford to pay much. Are there any word processing programs available for little or no money?

A. The short answer is that there are a variety of programs that will work. First of all, Windows 8 comes with two word processors included. Notepad is a very simple word processor which can create simple text documents. Also provided free with Windows 8 is a revised version of WordPad, which is a more advanced word processor that is much more versatile than Notepad. Unlike Notepad, it can save your document in several different formats and can incorporate images within your documents. WordPad does an adequate job in many cases and for many people, it may be all you need and it doesn't cost a cent.

If you need a full-fledged word processor to accomplish nicer looking documents or handle more complex tasks such as mail merge, there are other options. The most popular free word processors include Open Office, LibreOffice, and WPS (formerly Kingsoft) office suites, each of which provides not only a complete word processor but also spreadsheet programs and presentation programs. These are all quite compatible not only with Windows 8 but are also work fine with your existing documents created with Microsoft Office products. For instance, Writer (the W of WPS) works well with all versions of Windows since Windows XP including Windows 8. I like it since it offers a choice of skins (appearances) and so requires very little relearning to be able to use it. Any one of these should work well for you and all are free. Simply download and install them and you'll be back in business.

Published: Courier 11/23/14 - Page 3D