In brief:

Free/open source office suite developed by the KDE team. Development efforts have very consciously taken a different route to that of most word processors. KWord is a frames-based word processor with a substantially different philosophy to that of products such as OpenOffice.org Writer and Microsoft Word.

KOffice website

Plus points:

Gripes:

Compatibility:

KWord's import/export filters have improved substantially; the RTF import and export filters can now be described as reasonable. There is an MS Word import filter, but no corresponding export filter; however, to be fair, most other word processors only export to RTF in any case when appearing to export as MS Word, and merely rely upon MS Word itself identifying the file as RTF in spite of the .doc suffix. The KWord RTF filter still has some way to go before it can rival the import and export capabilities of OpenOffice.org, however.

Language support:

User interfaces have now been produced in 25 different languages. Selecting the language modules you want when you install KDE should ensure that the relevant menu texts are available when you call up any K application; this worked with the three languages I installed (English, German and Romanian). This doesn't mean, though, that special fonts you need (in my case, for Romanian) are also installed - these may not be packaged with your distribution, in which case you have to obtain them separately. Right-to-left/bidirectional languages are now supported.

Conclusion:

The KOffice team clearly opted to design an office suite from the ground up, rather than cloning the ubiquitous Microsoft product. Whilst there may not be anything essentially wrong with breaking new ground, the fact remains that most of us are condemned to working with Microsoft's formats in order to keep our customers happy. KOffice continues to lag OpenOffice.org and Textmaker in this area.

File compatibility aside, KOffice has improved considerably. Even though I have barely had occasion to use it, I have noticed improvements: the Undo/Redo function is no longer single-step only, for example, and the cursor key combinations have also improved. Stability also appears to have improved considerably. Another significant development is the decision by the KWord team to model the native file format on that of OpenOffice.org.

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