Is Word A Relic?

There's nothing more likely to stir up a debate than finding a nice big soapbox and telling everyone that the tool they use is rubbish. That's what one columnist did today through a major daily paper [The Age].

Microsoft Word has become the lingua franca for businesses and schools. The docx format is an ISO standard and can be opened in lots of different programs aside from Word. Of course, what you see when you open a docx document isn't always the same as what the creator intended but at least you can usually read the text.

Do you agree with the writer's premise that "Microsoft Word is cumbersome, inefficient, and a relic of obsolete assumptions about technology"? Personally, I don't mind Word - I've even become accustomed to the Ribbon - although I usually prefer to use a plain text editor for most of my word crunching as I prefer a distraction-free writing tool.


    I'd apply that statement to Microsoft as a whole, not just Word.

      You're either just an Apple troll, or you have no frigging idea... just sayin!

    I read the article and it was rubbish. It seemed to me he was trying to use Word for something it was never intended (publishing to the web) and complaining when he got poor results.

      Glad you read it so I didn't have to contribute to the page hits. I find Word is a comprehensive and powerful word processing application. I cringe when I see my sisters use Word documents to save groups of images.

        Software testers in my workplace save individual screenshots in Word documents.

        I have to open up a Windows VM with Word Viewer just to find out if the screenshot provides more information than their vague bug descriptions.

          James, I know how you feel. You need to educate them on the use of zip files at the very least :P

            Actually, docx IS a zip file. Rename it to .zip, extract it, and you'll find all of the original images in a separate subfolder

      also read it and came to that conclusion. He's upset that formatting changes when you move text from one format (word) to another (html/web)?

      All I can think of here is that they use a GUI-based web publishing system and he expects it to transition one markup language to another without flaws. Whatever you're pasting from - word, libreoffice, wordpad - this doesn't happen. That's why things like LaTeX exist, for those who rely on formatting being pefect.

      I'd love it if everybody started using plain text again, but word being misused is just a byproduct of how successful it is. For now, he's going to have to use 'save as text file' and do a bit of formatting before he posts it.

      Agree absolutely, the journalist was making a meal out of word processing because he clearly didn't know how to use Word properly. A good example of a poor workman blaming his tools.

    Trolling is the new journalism. It's all about page hits.

      Indeed, and this article is just feeding the troll.

      Please don't abuse the term "trolling". This is sensationalism and is nothing new. It's has and always will be about page hits sensationalist or not.

        I agree Beef - sensationalism = page hits = advertising revenue. All journos** need to do for their papers is write a story for their papers once a month on one of the following topics and you're set:

        Hating cyclists
        "Brave Aussie diggers"
        The NBN
        Childcare costs
        Teenage boy bands

        **I don't include LH contributors in that group!

          You forgot boat people!

          And the carbon tax. And the shortcomings of the current PM. And temp workers being imported to do jobs that some Australians might want.

            and shonky builders, and fat kids in our schools, and quack cures, and celebrity diets, .... oh wait, that's TT and ACA, scrub that...

    Have to agree with the complaint about Word's approach of "more is more". TSH's sisters wouldn't be trying to use Word to save images if Word hadn't tried to set itself up as a wannabe desktop publishing program (something it does spectacularly badly). Most of the complaints I have with Word are tied to its going beyond the brief of being a powerful *word processing* tool.

    Sheesh. Cry moar.

    Seemed to me the author was suggesting that in today's cross-platform world, Word being the de facto standard for sharing of "documents" was counter productive. While I might question some of the finer points, I agree with the sentiment 100%...

    In terms of the program I switched to open office( free ware) when the new layout hit word, I don't need pretty colours, big icons and fancy menus. It's what I grew up with and learned on and does the job. An iPhone and iPad is about as Mac as I go.

    word is rubbish, haven't opened it in years. i pretty much did my whole phd using either a basic text editor or latex.

    It's all about the trend of replacing desktops and their software with tablets, app stores and dumbing down the user experience for the lazy user. I'm sorry but in corporate land Word isn't going to be replaced anytime soon, and neither is the desktop.

    Microsoft "Word" is such an improvement on a typewriter! A pity they didn't stop to design it before forcing it on an unsuspecting and inexperienced world.

    Rubbish article. Why give it oxygen? It made about as much sense as the first commenter here.

    And if the author is such an expert author/sub, how did "till" get into the copy?

    I would agree that yes, Word is a relic.

    But that would be because I'm still using Word 97, so it is indeed a relic :P

      That's probably the best version! I hate the newer versions with their "Ribbon" interface!

    None of the alternatives have the same functionality as MS Word. I've tried a number of them and I did find that I missed those functions that were'nt available

    Not sure if 'unfair' is the right word, but when I think about its failings I also think about its fraternal twin, Outlook.

    Its Tables feature could be better, and it's not fun when using jpegs in your document.

    I like Mail Merge though!

    Yes word is an old relic, yes the .DOC and .DOCX formats are pretty terrible, yes its likely not optimal for your one use case.
    The thing is Word CAN be used for everything, so pretty much anyone could theoretically use it for what they want, but if you know you only want a pair of scissors, you shouldn't spend money on a swiss army knife.

    If this guy wants something for web formatting, he should use something for web formatting, not complain about a tool that's also used for writing, presentations, authoring, mail merging, and all the rest.
    Use the right tool for the job, don't complain the tool you're using is wrong.

    Word is a horror, but perhaps not for the reasons the referenced article makes out (his argument is that it's no good for web publishing - may be true, but all of us in the report writing biz like engineers, lawyers, etc. still kill trees).

    The Styles and Templates functions in word are a disaster, and get worse every time for precisely the "more is more" philosophy criticised. For (what I would believe is) the primary business use of a word processor - creating structured, consistent documents in a company format - Word is a disaster. At best it requires a lot of manual correcting. At worst, when pasting from a differently formatted document imports a mess of contradictory styles and Word just crosses it's wires and goes mental, you can easily spend more time formatting and chasing your tail than writing a medium sized document.

    Also the old skool reliance on "invisible" characters like line feeds and section breaks is out of the LaTeX / ASCII era and must die.

    I thought that was a Big W logo on the grave at first...

    Word is an abomination. Two decades of creeping featuritis without the benefits of backward compatibility. HTML export and any other standards interoperability is a joke. Unfortunately it's main rivals lost traction in the nineties. Even then, WordPerfect and others were cleaner. Nowadays Apple's Pages, LibreOffice, OpenOffice and such are more elegant and focused. It's unfortunate, as Word could have simplified and become more elegant, leaving space for Microsofts publisher to do the heavy lifting. Oh well.

    Word is far from obsolete - it just doesn't occupy every sector it used to.

    For developing copy where there's multiple people involved, shared web solutions like Google Docs are far better. But they fail when it comes to outputting anything that looks any good, so I only use Google Docs when I know the next stage is going to be me or a designer jumping into InDesign.

    If I need to output some text that looks reasonable and don't have time for the DTP workflow, I'll use Word.

    Word isn't obsolete, its bloaty and could do with streamlining, like most MS applications.
    But the majority of corporate businesses are not publishing their content on the web, they use the office suite and store it on network fileshares and document management systems. When I say majority, Id say like 90%+.
    Most of Microsoft's clients are not trendy hipsters using tablets, working in the cloud from a cafe , they care about big corporate and big corporate progresses slowly.
    Word will be used for YEARS to come and as shitty and bloaty as we all think it may be, there is not other truly legit contender for business use on a large scale.

    After working from home for nearly 2 years i have realised there is very little reason to have word anymore. If you are compiling a big document that needs formatting it's still useful (although if you didn't already own it you would be better off with a free alternative, such as Libreoffice). For any normal word processing all one needs is a text editor with spellcheck, word count and basic formatting options.

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