WordPad is a basic word processor that is included with almost all versions of Microsoft Windows from Windows 1.0x onwards. It is more advanced than Notepad but simpler than Microsoft Works Word Processor and Microsoft Word. It was called Microsoft Write in Windows 1.0x to 3.x.
WordPad can format and print text, but lacks intermediate features such as a spell checker, thesaurus, and support for tables. As such, it is suitable for writing letters or short pieces, but underpowered for work that relies heavily on graphics or typesetting.
WordPad natively supports the Rich Text Format, though it does not support all the features defined in the RTF/Word 2007 specification. Previous versions of WordPad also supported the "Word for Windows 6.0" format, which is forward compatible with the Microsoft Word format.
In Windows 95, 98 and Windows 2000, it used Microsoft's RichEdit control, versions 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 respectively. In Windows XP SP1 and later, it uses RichEdit 4.1, including Windows 7.
WordPad for Windows XP added full Unicode support, enabling WordPad to support multiple languages, but UTF-16/UCS-2 Big Endian is not supported. It can open Microsoft Word (versions 6.0-2003) files, although it opens newer versions of the .DOC format with incorrect formatting. Also, unlike previous WordPad versions, it cannot save files in the .doc format (only .txt or .rtf).Windows XP Service Pack 2 onwards reduced support for opening .WRI files for security purposes.
Windows XP Tablet PC Edition SP2 and Windows Vista include speech recognition, and therefore dictation into WordPad is possible. In these and later Windows versions, the RichEdit control was added and as a result, WordPad now supports extensible third-party services (such as grammar and spell check) built using the Text Services Framework (TSF).
In Windows Vista, support for reading Microsoft Word DOC files was removed because of the incorrect rendering and formatting problems, as well as a Microsoft security bulletin that reported a security vulnerability in opening Word files in WordPad. For viewing older (97-2003) as well as newer (Office Open XML) documents, Microsoft recommends Word Viewer, which is available for free. Native Office Open XML and ODF support was released in the Windows 7 version of WordPad.
Microsoft has updated the user interface for WordPad in Windows 7, giving it an Office 2010-style ribbon that replaces the application menu and toolbars. Other bundled Windows applications such as Paint have had similar changes of interface.
WordPad was introduced in Windows 95, replacing Microsoft Write, which came with all previous versions of Windows (version 3.11 and earlier). The source code to WordPad was also distributed by Microsoft as a Microsoft Foundation Classes sample application with MFC 3.2 and later, shortly before the release of Windows 95. It is still available for download from the MSDN Web site.
The default font used in Windows 95 to Windows Vista was Arial 10, in Windows 7 it was changed to Calibri 11.
A similar word processor called WordPad is supplied by some vendors on a Windows CE pre-installation. It has simple functionality like its desktop OS cousin. The icon resembles an early Microsoft Word icon.