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This is a new word processor (version 1.0.1) that has two aims that I wholeheartedly support:

  • cross platform. Almost the same code runs on Unix, Windows, Linux and Mac. Why is this important? Suppose next year Company SuperNewOS brings out a new operating system on a new chip. What will you do with your existing documents? AbiWord will require a minimal re-compile to get it working on the new OS.
  • internal file format is ASCII. I have already myself suffered from incompatible and different proprietary internal file format of different word processors. Imagine SuperNewOs and what will IT managers of global pharmaceutical companies do when they contemplate the disks of Word documents that have to be converted. They will rend their clothes and cover their heads with ashes. ASCII is the universal standard that has stood the test of time. Any other proprietary format is asking for trouble in the long run - look out Microsoft.

Preliminary experience with AbiWord is that it is very much like MSWord, but obviously with fewer features. The most noticeable absence is table support, but this is coming in a next version. Otherwise, it is great to be able to see the structure of one's document, have it converted nicely into HTML and being simple, this word processor is fast to load and to use. Something very useful to me, but I recognize that I am out on a limb here, is the support for multiple spelling dictionaries in the same document.

A simple editor that can replace WordPad for most people, but does not threaten Microsoft Word.

Richard Blazek

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