The issue of privacy is not just related to nefarious activities that one might wish to get up to, more that the whole internet experience that you receive as an individual can be manipulated based on historical browsing.Hi Jon,
As it happens, I don't get sent much these days! Be that as it may, I can open MS Word docs - but the formatting is likely to go fukty. I've not tried it, but in theory that issue is easily solved by installing the appropriate App. If I want to create a new doc. I use Google docs which is fine for my purposes. Thus far, I've not been in a position where I'm unable to do something on the Chromebook that I was able to do on my old Windows machine. That said, I'm no techie and my needs are very basic. Web browsing, T2W, e-mail and YouTube pretty much cover all bases. For me, its biggest USP is not having to worry about viruses, malware and internet security; clever techies at Google HQ take care of all of that. Needless to say, absolutely everything is Google based, so it's not suitable for anyone who has issues with that. Whilst I'm not totally comfortable with it, there's not much I can do about it and besides, I don't use the Chromebook in a way that will remotely be of any interest to anyone else!
It's a rather large subject area certainly too big for this thread, but in a nutshell, unless you take steps to protect yourself from the various technical means that have been used to make a profile of your computer use then one leaves oneself vulnerable to manipulation via the internet.
If we could step back to the Internet of 20 years ago, history was something you owned and could delete, the search experience was relatively unbiased for example, search results were not manipulated. Step forward 20 years and sophisticated collection, profiling and dissemination techniques have turned people's browsing history into a goldmine for those that own the search engine algorithms (Google being the most popular), 3rd party trackers make money for corporations and govts and political parties make political gain.
Understanding the above allows one to decide what they want/wish to do with their Internet experience.