Microsoft Word and other Office apps do not always come preinstalled on Windows 10, and for some users it can come as a shock that they must pay out for the very apps that they consider to be what makes their computer usable.
A full Office 2019 licence can be expensive, but there are many ways to get Microsoft apps for free, whether you're wanting to access Word from your phone, tablet, laptop or PC.
We've outlined some free workarounds below, as well as significantly discounted offerings, but should you go through all this and decide you don't want Microsoft Word at all there is also plenty of free alternative office suites that are compatible with Microsoft's software.
Download the free Office apps for iOS, Android and Windows
In a shift towards embracing the cloud, Microsoft's current strategy for Office means that you can download its mobile apps for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for free on a wide range of devices including Android and iOS as a part of its Office Online option. You can download these apps for iOS, Android and Windows 10 using the links below.
While these are free for any device, they don't simply allow you full access to all the functions, with the full functionality held back for Office 365 subscribers. See our full Microsoft Office buying guide.
You'll always be able to open and read documents for free, but can only create and edit them for free on a device with a screen smaller than 10.1 inches. That means you can edit Word documents from a smartphone or small tablet, but if you're on a larger tablet, laptop, or desktop PC you can only view them.
On iOS, the distinction is simpler at least: you can create and edit documents for free on any iPhone, regular iPad, or iPad Air or Mini, but iPad Pro users can only view files.
It's worth noting that even on a device with a smaller screen, you only get what Microsoft calls the 'core' Office experience, with some editing tools and features held back from free users.
Try Office 365 for free
Being able to view documents alone isn't much use of course, so anyone on a PC, laptop or tablet with a screen bigger than 10.1in will want something more than that.
The easiest option is just to sign up for Office 365, Microsoft's cloud-based subscription service, which costs from £5.99/US$6.99 per month for a personal account. It offers the same apps listed above, but simply unlocks their full feature set on any device, while saving your work in the cloud so that you can access it wherever you are. You also get access to programs like Exchange Online and SharePoint Online.
The good news is, there's a one-month free trial of Office 365, so you can try it for free without committing to paying a penny.
Get Microsoft Teams for free
If you often collaborate with other people you can also sign up for Microsoft Teams for free which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote Online apps. Teams lets you chat, share files and start video calls from within the platform. There are premium plans as well starting from £3.80/month per user.
Get Office 365 Education for free
Teachers and students can get Office 365 Education for free, which includes Office Online (Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote) and Microsoft Teams, as well as unlimited personal cloud storage.
You need to be a full-time or part-time faculty or staff member or student with a valid school email to be eligible. Check if you qualify here.
Microsoft Home Use Program Discount
While it's not completely free, you can save 30% on an Office 365 subscription through your employer via Microsoft's Home Use Program for either a 365 Home or 365 Personal subscription.
You would need to check your eligibility by entering your corporate email address. If your employer qualifies, you would receive a verification link via email to authenticate your Microsoft account which enables access to the 30% discount. See if you qualify here.
Note that the Home Use Program is only available in the UK right now.
If you need more functionality than the Office apps give you for free, but don't want to pay for Office 365, there are various alternatives to Microsoft Office out there that are completely free.
Our recommendation is LibreOffice which is a full suite that's regularly updated and allows you to open and save documents in Microsoft formats. You can download LibreOffice here.
Otherwise, check out our guide to the best free alternatives to Word for more options.