The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

16 May 2007

Word to your mother

And she won't like it either, if Dean Esmay is correct:

Microsoft Word is the most evil piece of word processing software in the history of the known universe.

My very first evil piece of word-processing software was SpeedScript for the Commodore 64, and yes, I typed it in from a magazine. (At least you don't have to do that with Word. Yet.) It worked better than it deserved to, but when I moved up to the C-128 I snagged a copy of PaperClip, which became my word processor of choice right up until I noticed that the 128 would actually sort of run CP/M.

Shortly thereafter, I got a native CP/M machine — a gently-used Osborne 1 with the entire software bundle still intact, including, yes, WordStar. In the 1990s, when I was finally driven to DOS, I picked up a DOS version of WordStar (3.3, I think; it definitely wasn't the WS2000 version), decided I didn't like it, and wound up with WordPerfect 5.1, which I stayed with through most of the decade, finally jumping to Ami Pro when I moved into a Windows 95 environment some time just before the release of Windows 98.

Lotus bought out Ami, changed it to WordPro, and added the obligatory bloatware features needed to stay even with Microsoft; I installed the whole Lotus SmartSuite. (I still use 1-2-3. Go figure.) And I stayed with it until newer hardware and changes to Windows XP made WordPro somewhat less reliable, at least on my work box; I've started switching over to OpenOffice.org. Be it noted that 42nd and Treadmill was willing to allow me a Microsoft Office license; I turned it down.

So I'm probably not the ideal person to cast aspersions on Word, although I've spent enough time with it to appreciate some of its strengths and deplore some of its irritations. Its greatest strength, perhaps, is its sheer ubiquity: everybody has it, or knows where to find it on short notice. And I have to wonder if part of my distaste for the program is actually distaste for that goddamn animated paper clip.

Posted at 6:25 AM to PEBKAC


Let's see -- the first word processor I ever used was part of a DOS program called PFS: First Choice that came with my first PC. I liked it, but when I got my Windows 95 box it didn't work so well, and the PC came with Works anyway, or I used WordPad for more casual purposes.

My one copy of PFS was on the hard drive of that first PC, but the drive got ruined during our move across the hemisphere in 1999 and I have no idea what happened to the diskettes with the installation files, even assuming I had a working 5-1/4" drive to put them in to load the software. And I do actually still have a handful of files on an old archive CD that PFS should be able to open.

I never got seriously into the use of word-processing software; the greatest part of my dead-tree writing was printed out using MS-Publisher. Since then I've alternated between Word and Works.

Other than OEM-installed, I've only ever paid for Office once, and I'm not sure I ever bought a version of Works separately. Publisher, on the other hand...

Anyway, I don't really have anything against Word. My wife found it hard to get used to using it at work until she stopped using WordPerfect at home.

Posted by: McGehee at 8:31 AM on 16 May 2007

Let's see, I started with:

* Paperback Writer for the Commodore 128 I shared with my brother while I was in high school.
* Some Commodore 64 program that eludes me when I got a Commodore 64 to take to college.
* LotusWorks with my first PC (called a "clone" in those days).
* Microsoft Works with the first Windows 3.11 machine.
* Microsoft Word since then.

Say what you will, but after a decade or so, Microsoft Word is pretty stable. There in the middle 1990s, it was known to make professional technical writers cry when it crashed all the time.

Posted by: Brian J. at 10:05 AM on 16 May 2007

WordStar 5 was better than the older incarnations, but my favorite of DOS word processors was definitely WordPerfect 5.1.

I currently use OpenOffice.org as well, and have been using it ever since version 0.6 (I think it was 0.6.4, but that was on an old Linux maching that I no longer have, so I can't verify it.) I'm so used to OpenOffice.org that I sometimes have to hunt for necessary functions when I use Word or Excel.)

I also denied my workplace's available license for M$ Office to use at home. (Though, strangely enough, I am posting this using Windows XP (my work computer).

Posted by: Scooby214 at 4:04 PM on 16 May 2007

Bank Street Writer was the program for the Commodore 64. In case anyone was wondering.

Posted by: Brian J. at 8:02 PM on 16 May 2007

Alright, so you don't like Word. Most people don't. But in today's day and age, using it is often necessary. But what about when you need to convert PDF to Word? When you buy software, make sure to do your homework. can be complex, but having the right PDF converter can make all the difference in the world.

Posted by: Dustbury Institutional Advertising at 11:07 AM on 12 June 2007