Microsoft has quietly revealed plans to stop updating its longstanding WordPad app and remove it from Windows entirely, though it's not yet clear when or how that might happen.
This is a big deal because WordPad debuted nearly 30 years ago with the launch of Windows 95, and since then it's surely been used billions of times by Windows users worldwide who need to read a .doc file but haven't installed (or paid for) Word.
Of course, it's easy to imagine at least a billion of those uses have been folks accidentally opening a document in WordPad when they meant to use Windows NotePad, a common mix-up that might offer us a clue as to why Microsoft is finally planning to give WordPad the axe.
Another reason might be that Microsoft wants to give Windows users more incentive to pay for Microsoft Word, a key component in its Microsoft 365 suite of apps you can subscribe to for a monthly or yearly fee. Indeed, the company explicitly recommends anyone who wants to keep using WordPad to rely on NotePad and Word instead.
"WordPad is no longer being updated and will be removed in a future release of Windows," reads an excerpt of Microsoft's freshly-updated Windows deprecated features list. "We recommend Microsoft Word for rich text documents like .doc and .rtf and Windows Notepad for plain text documents like .txt."
That update appears to have been added to the list on Friday September 1st, just ahead of the U.S. Labor Day weekend when many take advantage of the holiday to leave work early. Friday afternoons are typically a common time for companies to announce bad news, like layoffs and closures, so perhaps it's not so surprising to see the murder of WordPad announced the same way.
While some may mourn the loss of this long-running Windows app, it's hard to imagine it will have any significant impact on Windows or Microsoft.
As a lifelong Windows user I've really only ever opened WordPad by accident, and if it does disappear entirely I won't be too put out because I know there are other great word processors out there to use besides WordPad and Word if you need to work with documents on your PC. Heck, I do most of my writing and editing in Google Docs these days.
That said, Microsoft does ask for feedback via the Windows Feedback Hub app on its list of deprecated features, so there is an avenue for diehard WordPad fiends to appeal its pending demise. Perhaps if there's an outpouring of support, Microsoft will stay its hand and allow WordPad to live on, even if just as an optional, rarely-updated app you can pull down from the Microsoft Store.
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Alex Wawro is a lifelong tech and games enthusiast with more than a decade of experience covering both for outlets like Game Developer, Black Hat, and PC World magazine. A lifelong PC builder, he currently serves as a senior editor at Tom's Guide covering all things computing, from laptops and desktops to keyboards and mice.