Talk is cheap, but Word is expensive. Fortunately, Jarte is free. This clever little word-processing program from lets you open, modify, and save files in common formats. And we do mean "little": Jarte fits onto a small, 64MB USB drive with room to spare for a couple of documents, making it perfect for travellers who want to work on projects and might not have internet access for using web-based alternatives.
Jarte's tabbed interface makes it easy to work on several files - in several formats - at once. We also appreciated the clickless file menus, which open with a mere mouse-over. (Selecting menu items requires clicks, of course.) You have a choice of three layouts: the Notepad-style Minimal; the default, aptly named Compact; and Classic (with big, handy buttons).
Whether we ran Jarte off an XP system's hard drive or a portable USB drive, it opened Microsoft Word .doc, Rich Text Format and Word 2007 .docx files without a hitch. (The .docx functionality requires Microsoft's free, but large, compatibility pack for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007 file formats.) We successfully saved files in .doc, .txt, and .rtf formats.
The trade-off for Jarte's small footprint and shallow learning curve is a dearth of features. A paid-for version, Jarte Plus, offers more, such as automatic spelling correction, automatic outlines, the ability to save clipboard cuttings for future use and support for independent user profiles, which Jarte calls "personalities".