Saying Goodbye to WordPad: Windows' Staple for 28 Years Gets the Chop

(Image credit: Future)

Alas, poor WordPad, we knew it well, but did anyone use it, and will anyone miss it? WordPad, the stalwart middle-ground text editing app that has been a Windows staple for 28 years, has been deprecated by Microsoft.  

In a bulletin about deprecated features, published Friday, Microsoft says that WordPad will no longer receive updates and will be unavailable in future versions of Windows.

WordPad has been an optional Windows feature for some time. It became an option, rather than a standard feature, in February 2022. Therefore, its deprecation isn't a great surprise now, in 2023.

Many older readers will have poked text around in WordPad since it has been around since the Windows 95 days. Microsoft initially envisaged WordPad as a primary free word processor for Windows users.

The lighter-weight Notepad was the bundled tool of choice for plain text and configuration file editing. For short documents with styled text, multiple fonts, picture inserts, and a sprinkling of other basic features, WordPad could handle it. However, Microsoft limited the WordPad app's crafting of .doc and .rtf files just enough to inspire users to upgrade to its paid-for Office Word software.

(Image credit: Future)

In its WordPad deprecation notice, Microsoft clarifies that there isn't room for a middle-ground app like WordPad anymore. "We recommend Microsoft Word for rich text documents like .doc and .rtf and Windows Notepad for plain text documents like .txt," states the official notice dated September 1.

There are many Notepad and Word alternatives from third-party software creators, so you shouldn't feel limited by Microsoft's advice. However, most apps target either plain text or fully-featured word processing, and the middle ground covered by WordPad is comparatively neglected.

When Microsoft announced it would deprecate Windows Paint with an OS update in mid-2017, it quickly became aware of a groundswell of popular support for the app. That lead to a change of heart by Microsoft, and it decided to give the bitmap app a lifeline by adding it to the Microsoft Store and even modernizing it. Somehow, we can't the public getting behind WordPad in the same way.

Mark Tyson
Freelance News Writer

Mark Tyson is a Freelance News Writer at Tom's Hardware US. He enjoys covering the full breadth of PC tech; from business and semiconductor design to products approaching the edge of reason.

  • Sluggotg
    I love Word Pad. Bummer!
    I need to get something different. Is Open Office the way to go?
  • Alvar "Miles" Udell
    Honestly, I'm surprised they kept it around with Windows 11 since web-based Office (and Google alternatives) have been around and free for years, and offline Office 2019/2021/2023 can be gotten for under $50, in addition to the free suites.
  • digitalgriffin
    Libre office it is.

    At my last job, we had report templates generated on rtf. We could only use wordpad because word generated over 3 times the file size crashing the parser.
  • Microcoz
    well they already screwed it up so why not. Who wants light weight programs that use no resources and open in an instant. Who wants to be able to temporarily change a Windows setting and leave that settings page open while you change another.
  • stonecarver
    I've got my copy of the off line installer in a zip and .exe. The only time I need it is when going into a game file to change maybe an older games resolution or a mod, fix fps, unlock fps, fix textures you name it, to make game play on Windows 10/11.

    Note pad works but you will get sometimes when you open a game file you get jibberish. Yeah gonna hold onto a copy for my future self when that time does come. She had a good run.
  • AgentBirdnest
    Wait, what!? Noooooooo!! Seriously, I use it almost daily. I use Notepad and Libre Office as well, for different purposes, but the middle-ground WordPad is my favorite for throwing together a quick doc to print. :-(
  • Grobe
    If you have a very strict environoment where policy is that absolutely no aditional software is allowed, Wordpad can be pretty useful because that's the only way to import/export rich test and text+images. So if this also affect Windows server OS, it is not a good decision.
  • hotaru251
    Hopefully some fan of it makes a fork of it.

    MS really needs stop killing off stuff ppl like.
  • Exploding PSU
    Isn't Wordpad the original "write.exe"? That program's ancient.
  • kerberos_20
    Exploding PSU said:
    Isn't Wordpad the original "write.exe"? That program's ancient.
    yup, it was there before win95, just named differently,altho write couldnt work with word documents meanwhile wordpad could