AbiWord 1.0.1 Quick Look
(MS Word Clone for Linux, MS Windows, & Other Platforms)
Mike Angelo -- 10 May 2002 (C)
AbiWord is a very nice, lightweight, Microsoft Word clone. It looks and feels very much as MS Word looks and feels. You can use AbiWord for word-processing. AbiWord also is a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get, pronounced wizzy-wig) HTML authoring program
The recent release of AbiWord 1.0 pulled this product out of the pre-1.0 version beta stages. However, it did not take the AbiWord developers long to move right to work adding more features and improvements to AbiWord.
With the release of version 1.0.1, AbiWord moves on to post-1.0 AbiWord development. Nevertheless, AbiWord 1.0.1 is quite usable for limited, regular duty. However, we occasionally have encountered a situation in which a document file written by AbiWord gets clobbered. Therefore, we suggest as a precaution that you make periodic backup copies of a document you are editing or creating with AbiWord.
One very noticeable difference between AbiWord and MS Word is table support. MS Word has very good table support. AbiWord does not.
Currently you can create tables in AbiWord only through employing a very clumsy process of creating table boundaries and cells by setting tab stops and adding lines to delineate cell and table borders. The good news is that the AbiWord developers plan to add table support to AbiWord in version 1.2.
Figure 1a, 1b, and 1c below are screen shots of AbiWord, Microsoft Word, and SOT Office running on Microsoft Windows 98 SE. Please notice how similar are the AbiWord, MS Word, and SOT Office desktops. Although if you take a close look you will notice differences too -- for example the widgets (icons for saving files, printing documents, undoing, and so forth).
If you are a Microsoft Windows user that has not tried AbiWord for Windows, download it and give it a test drive for yourself.
If you are a Linux user you likely already have AbiWord ready-to-install, installed, or included in your Linux distribution CD packages. If you have not tried AbiWord for Linux, give it a test drive. Even though you might have AbiWord with your Linux distribution you might want to upgrade that AbiWord version to the current AbiWord 1.0.1 version.
SOT Office 2002 is another newly released MS Office clone. It is built on the OpenOffice code-base. The SOT Office 2002 word-processing module has more features, including better table support, than does AbiWord. However, SOT Office has a much heavier footprint than does AbiWord -- but you are getting a word-processor plus spreadsheet, presentation, and drawing modules with SOT Office. AbiWord is pretty much a word-processing and WYSISYG HTML editor.
The AbiWord 1.0.1. MS Windows download file size is only about 3-MB compared to about 42-MB for SOT Office. Linux-wise, the AbiWord 1.0.1 binary runs about 3-MB (Red Hat 7.2 RPM file) compared to about 70-MB for the SOT Office 2002 Red Hat 7 RPM file. Add another 2-MB for the AbiWord font package Red Hat 7.2 RPM file.
We made the memory comparisons using the MS Windows versions of AbiWord and SOT Office because there is no Linux version of MS Office to compare them in Linux. The memory comparisons were made using the System Information module of Norton 2000 (Norton SI).
Incidentally, StarOffice 6.0 also is built on top the OpenOffice code-base. Thus, in a manner of speaking, SOT Office 2002 and StarOffice 6.0 are close cousins. So, if you would like a free copy of StarOffice 6.0, try SOT Office 2002.
For more about AbiWord, please see our article AbiWord - A Free, Decent, MS Word Clone for Linux, MS Windows, & Other Platforms.
AbiWord Feature matrix (detailed features list and development status table)
AbiWord User Interface matrix (detailed features list and development status table by OS and/or desktop)