Microsoft Word is arguably still the top player for word processing. Google Docs has been steadily gaining market share, but for many hardcore document creators, Word cannot be beat. Now, if you do not work for a corporation that provides it to you for free, you may have been wondering how to download Microsoft Word for free.
There are two ways to get Microsoft Word (or Excel, or Powerpoint) for free here in late 2021 and for the foreseeable future. The first way is Microsoft Word for mobile via Google Play or for iOS in Apple App Store. The second way is by signing up for a free Microsoft Office Online account – all you need is a browser and a Microsoft account (you have to register, but they are not any more invasive in asking for details such as your name and email just like any other major platform).
The mobile app is robust and allows you to do almost everything you can do in the desktop version (the one that you pay for). You can edit, save, share (as PDF, too), or print. Most of the formatting options are accessible in the mobile app version, so there’s barely a reason to go with the laptop/desktop version, except that it does get tedious to do any serious editing on a tiny handheld device, for most people. There are plenty of counterfeit sites offering free versions of Word or the full desktop Microsoft Office, but just go to the Microsoft website directly to get access to Office Online. Scroll down, enter your email, and they simply email you a download link for mobile, or signup for the desktop, laptop, web version on that same page.
I have to say that I love having the nearly-full version (again, mobile is slightly limited) of Word on my smartphone. Mostly, because it gives me a sense of the author’s formatting choices and can allow me to make edits and collaborate. I can save a full version in .docx format to my phone as well. Sure, I could upload it to Google Docs, convert it from Word, then save it back as Word and re-send it to my collaborator, but it is sometimes nice to just stay in the same program.
Just a heads-up, Office Online is a different way to use and work in Word, Excel, or Powerpoint, than the premium, full online version of these same tools, Microsoft 365, which is roughly $100/year for a family access with multiple users or $70 for personal use.
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I find the Office Online version keeps things simple for creating, using, and sharing documents with others. It works very similarly to Google Docs, arguably the de facto standard for online collaboration, and why you see Microsoft online at this level – because they cannot continue to give up ground to Google, frankly. So, you can store your documents here and open them up to others, as you see in the screenshot above.
Of course, if you are looking for the offline version, the full desktop version, that is much harder to come by for free. So be careful because most sites promising you a full desktop version at no cost are either scams, or at the very least, quite dubious. Buyer beware.
To be clear, as I have noted many times here on Forbes, I am a huge Google and Docs fan and love their products and use them on a daily basis. But there are times when I get stuck needing to live and work in a Microsoft Word/Office world for a project. Having the Office Online access is hugely helpful to my productivity, even though, as mentioned, I can work around it via Google Docs. I am the first to say though that I think the Microsoft Word feature set is hard to beat.