Friday, May 06, 2005

Word Woes

Volokher Randy Barnett gripes about Microsloth Word:

...have I ever mentioned how much I detest Microsoft Word? Word reformats paragraphs and everything else as it wishes and it is sometimes next to impossible to trick it into keeping it to the format you prefer. I assume that someone somewhere knows how to make all this work, but I have been word processing since I paid $4500 for an NBI standalone word processor in 1981, and word processing programs are simply not supposed to be that hard to figure out and control.

In contrast, WordPerfect is an amazingly elegant and transparent way to write. I know all about how it lost its market share. WordPerfect for Windows was initially awful (though some blame that on Microsoft too). I stuck with WordPerfect for DOS (requiring me to reboot into DOS whenever I wanted to word process) until WordPerfect for Windows 95 came along. From then on it was sweet and had gotten sweeter ever since.

The only thing that Word does better than WordPerfect (and it is substantially better) is "track changes" when editing a document. Here Word really shines. But I write all my articles and correspondence in WordPerfect and convert to PDF (which WordPerfect includes at no charge!) or Word when necessary. Thanks to PDF, I rarely need to convert to Word. I only use Word to read the documents of others, and deal with articles in press.

Do not bother to write with ways to learn how to make Word work properly. I know from experience that a word-processing program should not require any more time than I already have invested over the years to do simple document creation and formatting.

No kidding. Word is absolutely riddled with bug-like "features." I was a big fan of Lotus Ami Pro back in Windows 3.1 days, but when Lotus redid it as "Word Pro" it became rather Word-like. I've never tried WordPerfect. Perhaps I should, but I'd still be forced to use Word at work....

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