At the final New Technologies and New Literacies for Teens meeting at the Idaho Commission for Libraries, the day's "knock-your-socks-off" tool was Google Docs & Spreadsheets. The librarians there thought it was pretty sweet that they could help their patrons and students create, edit, print and save documents, all without installing a single copy of Word.
If you want to try something besides Google, my fellow splatter (aka SPLAT member) Memo previously listed a bunch of other online word processors. Any of 'em can help you handle common patron requests to type up everything from school reports on obscure animals you've never heard of to thank you letters to dear Aunt Bertha.
Go ahead, pick your favorite flavor and let your patrons process their words without Word.