Nearly thirty years ago, Microsoft introduced WordPad, a basic text editing software that later often came pre-installed on Windows machines, but is now going the way of Windows Movie Maker and Internet Explorer and is being discontinued.
WordPad shipped as part of Windows 95, which was Microsoft’s flagship operating system at the time, and has been included with every version of Windows since. It allowed the user to do basic text editing without any additional software, with features like the ability to include images and links to other files, and it supported multiple popular text formats.
Now, Microsoft has decided to retire WordPad, as detailed in an updated version of the latest Windows software documentation. Explain that as part of planned development lifecycles, some features are introduced and others are removed to improve the user experience. To that end, WordPad will see no new developments or updates and will be removed from Windows 11 in a future software update.
A potential security risk
There is also speculation of Bleeping Computer that WordPad was a security risk. Earlier this year, some computers running Windows were infected with Qbot malware, which evaded detection by exploiting a hijacking flaw in the WordPad app for Windows 10.
So despite our nostalgia for the software, perhaps it would be better if Microsoft actually abandoned it.
If you are an avid WordPad user or are just looking for good free text editors, don’t worry, I have you covered. Here are some recommendations for alternative programs that you can get for free from both Microsoft and third-party developers.
Microsoft’s first tip is the one you probably already know: Microsoft Word.
You can use Microsoft Word online for free with an Outlook account. You can then access Microsoft 365 online, accessing Microsoft’s cloud-based suite of Office apps, including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. You can also download Word as a standalone app with a Microsoft 365 subscription, but it’s not free.
Microsoft Word continues to be the preferred choice of many users, offering many features for writing, editing and formatting text, as well as sharing documents, and uses rich text file types, in particular .docx, a type of proprietary file that not every text editor can open or edit. You can access Word online for free here.
His second recommendation is another basic text editor that has been in Windows for years: Notepad. It is primarily intended for plain text documents such as .txt files. While WordPad is being phased out, Notepad continues to see updates to its functionality.
You can now open multiple files at once with its new tabbed interface, auto-save sessions, and continue working on a file in a different program like Word.
Notepad is a favorite tool for programmers, especially for developing Windows programs and applications. One important feature that it lacks beyond the capabilities of the RTF format is spell checking, so it’s worth checking text by copying and pasting it elsewhere.
If you have Windows installed on your device, you should already have Notepad installed. You can search for it in the search box on the taskbar.
Free third-party replacements for WordPad
The first replacement I’d recommend is a favorite among modern professionals and students: Google Docs. All you need is a Google Account, which you can sign up for using any valid email address for free.
Microsoft Word offers more layout and formatting options, but Google Docs is optimized for user collaboration and changes are constantly being saved in real time. If you’re already familiar with text editors, it’s easy enough to learn. It’s part of the suite of Google apps that you can use alongside Google Docs, such as Slide, Google’s presentation software.
Next, I would recommend LibreOffice Writer. LibreOffice is a free, open source software suite that is an alternative to Microsoft Office, and Writer is the word processing software in the suite that has tons of text formatting and layout features, as well as compatibility with Microsoft Word document formats, including the most recent . doc format.
LibreOffice also sees active development and receives updates and new features frequently. LibreOffice has a sleek interface that is very intuitive and you’ll be up and running right away.
My last recommendation is WPS Office Writer. To get it you will need to download WPS Office.
Once installed, you’ll need to create or sign in with a WPS account, or alternatively, you can sign in with Google, email, or Facebook.
WPS Office Writer has an interface that will be familiar to users of Microsoft Word and also has a built-in WPS AI assistant to enhance your writing and help you generate ideas (you can also download the WPS AI assistant separately).
You can then integrate WPS Office with Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive.
Other features that will be disabled
There are other features that will be discontinued in a future Windows update. Cortana, her voice assistant challenger to the likes of Alexa and Google Assistant, will be disabled.
Microsoft will also end support and functionality of the Microsoft Support Diagnostic Tool (MSDT) and turn off the old Transport Layer Security to improve the security of Windows 11. Cortana has been replaced by Microsoft Copilot, which debuted at this year’s Microsoft Build conference and aims to bring AI features to Windows 11 in the future.
Full details and explanation of the changes, including the discontinuation of functionality, can be found in the complete documentation for the updated software for Windows. As far as we know, Wordpad will remain functional and accessible until the Windows update is actually installed. However, Microsoft has not yet specified a date when this will happen.
If you really miss WordPad and are reluctant to use any of the programs I’ve listed above, Neowin speculates that Windows enthusiasts will probably do their best to preserve the program. Microsoft Paint was also destined for a similar fate, but after the user outcry described by Bleeping Computer, it has not been eliminated entirely and made available for download in the Microsoft Store. If there’s enough demand, Microsoft might consider making something similar to WordPad.