Want to view Word docs accurately without the expense of buying the program? Microsoft thoughtfully provides a free Word viewer download. Very handy for those who use open source or browser based word processors that don't always display Word documents exactly the way originally intended. Like the free Adobe Acrobat viewer, the viewer does not provide any editing functionality.
After conceding much ground to their competitors, especially Google with its cloud-based docs suite, Microsoft is finally coming to the party. It seems that the Office suite software will be available online later this year, which is about a thousand years in cloud development time. As is the new norm, a stripped down version will be available for free, and a fully featured priced model also offered. Whether that will be enough to staunch the bleeding of users to Open Office, Google Docs and other services such as Zoho remains to be seen.
Designers love to hate Word for Windows. They are accustomed to layout packages that do as they are told. Word is packed with features that are rarely used and hides those which should be front and centre. It tries to think for the user (applying styles automatically, for example) and loads documents with unwanted character and paragraph level styles. Precise placement of an element on a page is often difficult, if not impossible. When imported into layout packages such as InDesign, a designer's first task is to clean out all of the crud. This includes removing unused styles, special effects, embedded objects and images and more, while taking care not to disturb necessary items such as footnoting, italicisation, bolding and indents.
In short, the best Word document is one constructed with simplicity in mind. Just the essentials and nothing more. For the daring, Google's stripped down cloud based word processor might be a good alternative way of achieving this end. For those utilising Track Changes, Indexing and Footnoting, perhaps Open Office might be another option.