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2.1 Word Processors Comparison Table

While all three word processing programs come in an online version and an offline version, currently, the offline version of Google Docs is very unreliable and cannot be recommended. As we will see, the online versions of MS Word and LO Writer are missing several important functions needed to create complex documents (such as the ability to create a Table of Contents). We will therefore introduce the online versions of Google Docs, MS Word and LO Writer. But we will focus primarily on the offline versions of MS Word and Lo Writer. Below is a table comparing the advantages and drawbacks of these five popular Word Processing programs.

Features

Google

Docs Online

MS

Word Online

LibreOffice

Writer Online

MS

Word Offline

LibreOffice

Writer Offline

Cost

Free? or $50/user (1)

Free but limited (2)

Free

(3)

$120 per year (4)

Free

(5)

Versions for all operating systems (6)

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Open Source Security (7)

No

No

Yes

No

Yes

Create & share all document types

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Can optimize images? (8)

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

Can simplify Toolbars?

No

No

No

No

Yes

Can change the default template

Yes

No

No

Yes

Yes

Can Create Page Styles?

No

No

No

No

Yes

OK for Simple

Documents

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

OK for Complex Documents

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

(1) Google Docs Online requires setting up a Google Gmail Account and is part of Google Drive. It is only free for individual users. Businesses are supposed to pay $50 per user per year.


(2) MS Word Online Version requires setting up a Microsoft Account and is part of MS One Drive. It is free but limited to only editing simple, short documents. Many important features are missing.
(3) LO Writer Online. Since LibreOffice Writer is a free program and available for all operating systems, and works whether you are online or offline, there is not much point to using an online version of LO Writer. However, if you want to try LO Writer online, here is a good website which is very similar to Google in that it gives you a free email address connect to a file manager which is connected to a word processing editor: https://signup.gmx.com/#.1559516-header-signup2-1
(4) MS Word Offline version only available for Windows and Apple computers and costs about $120 per year per user. If using a Linux computer, you can use MW Word offline by installing a free program called Play on Linux or by installing MS Windows in a virtual machine.
(5) LibreOffice Writer Offline comes installed on most Linux computers. Free fully capable versions of LibreOffice are available to be downloaded and installed on any Windows or Apple computer.
(6) Google Docs, MS Word Online and LO Writer Online all work in a browser. Therefore they all work on all operating systems. However, MS Word Offline is only available for the Windows and Apple Operating Systems. The most secure way to use MS Word in a Linux computer is to install Windows 10 in a free virtual machine and then install MS Word in the virtual machine. It will still cost about $120 per year per user.
(7) Open Source Security means that the source code is publicly available so that it can be inspected by independent auditors to make sure that the code does not have any backdoor holes. If a program is not open source, it can not be considered as secure.

LibreOffice Writer is an open source program as are all Writer documents created with LO Writer. However, MS Word and all documents created with MS Word can not be considered as secure because the code used inside of the document is largely hidden from view and therefore can not be independently audited.

(8) Optimizing images by compressing or reducing their file size without affecting image quality should be one of the most important features of any word processor as it is essential in order to convert documents into web pages. Sadly, Google Docs and the Online version of LibreOffice Writer lack this important feature – making both virtually worthless.