What's bigger and more capable than Notepad but not a match for Word? It's WordPad, the basic word processor included with Windows 95 and every Windows release since. Carolina Road's Jarte is a free word processor built upon WordPad. It moves the bar much closer to the capabilities offered by full-featured word processors such as Word, though Jarte is no Word clone. Word can open documents created by Jarte, and Jarte can open many (but not all) Word documents. We tried Jarte Portable, a fully portable version of this free word processor. Like the installed version of Jarte, the fully functional Jarte Portable has no adware or trial period. The only difference is that all the files required for Jarte to run without being installed are included with Jarte Portable's download.
From the very start it was obvious that Jarte is no Word knockoff, but it really doesn't look like any other word processor we've seen. In fact, it looks more like a music player than a word processor, and that's not a bad thing by any means. Jarte has a skinned background, and its tabs and main controls are centered instead of oriented to the left or right, with neat buttons accessing feature-packed menus deployed to either side. We like the ability to toggle among the default Compact View, the comprehensive Classic Layout, and the small but very Windows-like Minimal Layout. We could also change the background texture and other aspects of Jarte's appearance.
Jarte opened with an instructional Welcome Screen tab displayed in the main window. One of the first things we learned was how to activate Button Labels for the controls. We quickly learned that, despite its unconventional user interface, Jarte will actually be quite familiar to anyone who has wrangled a word processor or two. We created, edited, and saved text and rich-text documents as well as Word-compatible documents that opened normally in Word (though not vice versa). A good Web-based Help file explained all our questions. We only scratched the surface of this formidable freeware. Jarte is a capable tool, and the portable version just makes it more versatile.