And now for something completely different

This unusual but compact and capable word processor stands out from the crowd.

NativeWinds is an interesting software developer based in the mountains of Western Montana; its Tomahawk Gold is an interesting word processor that does a lot in a small, affordable package. It combines many of the essential features found in Microsoft's Word, like quick formatting and advanced editing, with the ability to create and save PDF documents. It handles other documents, too, and includes Mail Merge, network compatibility, and 15 language versions.

Tomahawk Gold's zipped executable is accessible immediately after extraction, with no installation needed. You can download the Help file separately, as well as extras such as a thesaurus. This interesting program from an interesting company has an interesting interface, too, that's quite different from the norm. Styled somewhat like a media player, it's dominated by the main display, a blank, ruled window with tiny arrows that expand sidebars, an efficient and refreshingly different design. The File buttons call up clearly labeled, icon-based menus, including a Tools menu packed with useful extras like a calculator, a wizard-based chart editor, spreadsheets, and a scratch pad feature that we found particularly useful. Tomahawk Gold supports Word 2007 documents but not previous Word versions, a disappointment, but it does support OpenOffice and other formats natively.

Tomahawk Gold's full-featured trial version puts a watermark on saved images. It's a compact, portable, and efficient word processor that combines a useful selection of tools and features in an easy-to-use package that stands out from the crowd. It's certified for Vista and "newer operating systems"; we tested it successfully in Windows 7, too. Highly recommended.

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