Why Are You Still Using Microsoft Word?

So you're still using Microsoft Word. Seems like an odd decision in the year 2017, but I didn't come here to judge. I'm legitimately curious why some people continue to pump their money into the MS Office Suite, despite mounting evidence that the software offers shitty security and a historically terrible user experience. So why bother?

Image: Lifehacker

Listen, it's fine. If you own and love Word, you do you. I would recommend that you update the software today, though. McAfee recently identified a dangerous zero-day attack in the wild that targets all Microsoft Office users. It's a nasty little thing, too, since hackers are hiding the exploit in .doc files that appear to be regular Word documents. Opening the document will actually give attackers full access to your computer, and that's obviously a bad thing. Microsoft quietly issued a patch to fix the vulnerability on Tuesday, so if you really are one of those people who still uses Word, you'd better update your software.

But that brings us back to the original question: What on Earth compels anyone to use Microsoft Word these days? Google Docs offers a lot of the same features for free. TextEdit on macOS is also free and delightfully lightweight. Heck, you can even just do your word processing in Evernote, if you're that kind of computer user.

Fact of the matter is, Microsoft Word seems to be a hot hacker target lately. Ahead of this latest .doc threat, a so-called Word macro virus popped up in the news a few weeks ago and potentially put millions of people at risk. While macro malware used to be relatively common for Windows users 10 or 15 years ago, the new virus affected Mac users who opened infected Microsoft Office documents and unwittingly downloaded a bunch of malware disguised as a macro. So that's inconvenient to say the least.

The big problem with Microsoft Word and malware is that the files are so ubiquitous, there's a good chance someone will get duped into opening the file. Pro tip: Don't do this. Seriously, don't ever open a mysterious file attached to an email or on a USB drive. There's a decent chance it's not only mysterious but also malicious. Some security companies have entire webpages devoted to warnings about Microsoft Word malware. You should really consider using another word processing tool, perhaps something like Google Docs that lives in the cloud and presents less of a threat to your precious computer. Did I also mention that it's free?

I really don't mean to judge, though. If you use Microsoft Word and it makes you happy, go get 'em, you Clippy enthusiast, you. If you use Microsoft Word and don't really know why, however, you might be needlessly putting yourself in harm's way. You might also be stuck in a time warp where MS Word is quite obviously the superior word processing tool, because (at least compared to WordPerfect) it once was. The truth is, that isn't the case any more. So if you remain a Word enthusiast for whatever reason, let me know in the comments. I'm genuinely curious about what's going through your head.


This story originally appeared on Gizmodo.

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Comments

    Word is utilised in every office environment I've been in, every university PC I've touched and is on both my Home PC, Laptop, Android phone and iPad.

    I have never had an issue with it, nor been concerned by it.

    I've used dropbox as my main cloud storage for a while, and I did contemplate using Google Drive, the fact I couldn't easily modify word documents through it was a deal breaker for me personally. Who would want to convert documents to use them effectively?

    This article seems to be more focused on bashing Word rather than what is easily basic internet safety.

      Yeah, I never really ever use word for anything that hasn't been work or study related and there's been no choice.

    Why Are You Still Using Microsoft Word?

    Simple, all the alternate software do not produce a "good looking enough" document for reporting to management...Google docs has half the style options, TextEdit is great...if you want a wall of text.

    Of course, I can use Latex to compile and format documents like I did in my research days, but then how many corporate people do you know can write latex? (if fact, even YOU didn't mention Latex one of the most powerful, but cumbersome as hell word formatting tool)

    Last edited 13/04/17 1:38 pm

    I'm mildly stunned by the arrogance of this post. For most of us, we are guided by either habit or lack of choice. For better or worse, I've used Word for years and years - I know my way around it, I'm used to the features, and it meets all my needs. As long as I observe safe online behaviour and avoid the temptation to download dodgy attachments, then what is the motivation for moving to an alternative? Chances are Google Docs can meet most but not all of my needs, but it will be the pain of learning how to do things on Google Docs, and being frustrated by the things that I can't do, that is reason enough for me not to switch.

    The other compelling reason why people stay with Word is that they are bound within corporate environments which rightly or wrongly remain wedded to Word, Excel and PowerPoint . My own organisation sent out an urgent patch today for the above-mentioned vulnerability. So we're relatively safe. Again, I see no burning platform to force a step change to something that isn't quite as good.

    And finally, just to bring you up to date, Clippy disappeared 13 years ago, and no-one I know ever used it.

    Last edited 13/04/17 1:41 pm

      "I really don't mean to judge..." - the ultimate disclaimer for an article that liberally hangs shit on Microsoft and anyone that uses office.

      Last edited 13/04/17 5:55 pm

        Like starting out with:
        "No offence, but..."; or
        "With all due respect, but..."
        Often these are indicators of passive aggression.
        Each to their own, but I think a blunt and plainly spoken expression of one's own opinion could be received more favourably. Probably equally controversial, but likely to garner more respect along the way.

    Because I can't live without Excel, Outlook, and OneNote, and my kids can't live without PowerPoint for their school presentations, and each member of my family needs their 1GB OneDrive storage that comes with our Office365 home subscription, and Word comes with those and it interops nicely with everything and it works on all out laptops, tablets, and phones whether we have internet connectivity or not at the time we need those documents (OneDrive caches the files locally). The setup for everything was one click and go. Why would I want anything else?

      That should have been 1TB OneDrive storage. The rest of the errors are there for your personal amusment.

    I really don't mean to judge, though.I think you really do, though. The bias in this article is palpable. You've used words like "evidence" and "fact", but have provided neither.

    If you think Google Docs is going to cut it in an office environment where dozens of people contribute to a multi-volume, 1000+ page financial report, pulling data from dozens of spreadsheets and various online reporting systems, I'd guess you've never worked on such a report.

    Word and Excel's comprehensive VBA object model also makes them excellent candidates for automating manual workflow tasks that save hours of work on every project. I can't imagine Google Docs' Javascript offers anywhere near the same flexibility.

    Word may not be perfect, but as soon as you start creating more than a basic written document or report, it's still one of the best tools for the job. A better candidate for a replacement may be LibreOffice, but if you have to retrain more than a few people to use it, it's unlikely to be worth it in the long term.

    Literally thousands of Government and legal forms used daily are formatted for MS Word and lose their formatting when used in other programmes, hence the reliance still today across multiple public and private sectors on MS Word

      Which is precisely why government and corporates should NOT be using a proprietary format which attempts to lock them in to that software. Forms, especially, should be distributed in PDF. Besides, using other software (eg Libre Office, Google Docs, or Pages for Mac) will save you buckets of money.

        Where do these buckets of money savings come from that aren't lost in time wasted trying to bend these programs to do things they can't do natively?

        Because Acrobat Professional is soooo cheap. While most places definitely don't build their forms in Word anyway....

    To add to the advantages of VBA, and integration with SharePoint and OneDrive etc for workflows, there is also the rich set of language tools, not just for proofing, but speech recognition, handwriting recognition (Oh yeah Office supports digital ink) and much more. If you're rolling this out to a global multlingual workforce, then nothing compares.

    Honestly most of the people who criticise Word have barely touched on its feature set, and probably don't do much more document creation than can be handled by WordPad.

    "Clippy enthusiast" simply marks you out as being 20 years out of date or a clickbaiter.

    Google Docs offers a lot of the same features for free. TextEdit on macOS is also free and delightfully lightweight.
    Clearly you recognise that Word has more features than Google Docs and TextEdit. What is the point of this article?

    Why do we still use Word?

    Because (as you acknowledge) it is ubiquitous.
    Because it does offer features that are absent, less complete, or buggy in alternatives.
    Because the cost of properly retraining staff to use an alternative and vetting that alternative for security and integration with other products in some cases outweighs the supposed benefits.
    Because the idea that alternatives are any more secure is a naive assertion that doesn't recognise the Word is simply targeted more and any vulnerabilities found are more widely publicized due to its popularity.
    Because Microsoft has the resources and motivation to quickly resolve problems as they are found, which isn't always true of competing products.

    We continue to use Word because we live in the real world rather than the naive fantasy world the author appears to occupy. If an alternative meets your needs (and for many this may be true) then by all means use it, but there are very good reasons this doesn't apply to everyone.

    Wow, what a passive aggressive article. Show me how in Google Docs I can make one page of a document landscape orientation and the following page portrait (often necessary in my technical documentation to properly display some charts and tables), and I'll agree that Google Docs is as fully-featured as Word.

    Spoiler - you can't. Word can do this with a couple of clicks, Google Docs can't do it at all.

    I would have commented, but a dozen people have said what I would have, so to ad something a little less constructive.... you are a fool.

    I would have have said something different but figured I'd water it down for the environment we're in. This article I should right up there with the best of buzzfeed. Well done if that is your career aspirations, happy pandering.

      A dozen people said what I was thinking too, I do use both, and google docs isnt good for more than the most basic text reports, then the sharepoint hyperlinking etc etc like they all said, then I was going to mock the author for heir naiivety, but even that has already been said. In summary: THIS ^.

    I use Google docs for my work as a sole trader and it's perfect for me to store records and create/share technical documentation, however I consult for companies who use MS Word to integrate with practice management systems and utilise semi-automated workflows for complex document creation. Part of my job is to literally make Word and SQL databases talk to each other, often automatically or with very few clicks and keystrokes. Google docs just doesn't quite cut it for this kind of comprehensive requirement.

    I've been using OpenOffice then it's off shoot LibreOffice for at least 10 yrs. I've also work for a successful publicly listed company that used LibreOffice on all of their PC's. I've produced many 50+ page reports with it and sent said reports to clients by exporting with the built in PDF export feature.

    If I recall correctly OpenOffice (parent of LibreOffice) had the xml type (open) document format and PDF exporter built in before Office 2007 introduced these features years later. The Open Office format was ratified by the ISO as a new standard, but they Microsoft true to form and keen on the principal of "vendor lockin" bastardised that into docx with Office 2007. Despite this, LibreOffice can still read and save to docx and xlsx formats!! But I prefer to use their native ISO format which is often more compact in size.

    I found zero need for Word/Excel, and don't miss them one bit. I recommend all my family and friends try LibreOffice and they say "thanks!" It has 100% of the features that 95% of us need, without the bloat., making the software much simpler to use and navigate AND troubleshoot. It's no wonder libreoffice has been downloaded over 100,000,000 times!!!

    Want your client to annotate your report? Well they just mark it up with whatever PDF editor they have. Or they can use the LibreOffice free reader/editor ;-)

    FEATURES
    Besides the easy of use, no bloat, light weight speed there is also a drawing and database package included in LibreOffice, that some use as Visio or Access replacements.

    TRAINING
    If you can't work out how to use an intuitive software package like LibreOffice, then you are a moron, and would struggle with Word or Microsoft Office anyway. LibreOffice is a breeze to use, especially by experienced PC users.

    COST
    If an organisation had purchased Office 2007, 2010, 2013 and 2016 under the Open License Program, which they often do, it would have cost at least $500 per upgrade, making it $2000+ to keep with the latest versions. A hundred staff makes it a cool $200,000!! over 10 yrs!! OUCH!! For SMB's up to 500 staff, that is huge hit. Admittedly very small businesses can get away with HOme and Business versions of Office at around $220-$240 a hit, but there are no downgrade rights like with the OLP version of MS Office. Even if necessary, you keep a few copies of Microsoft Office around a little longer to cater for any sort of 10yr old 200MB Excel spreadsheets used by the finance team that are VB/scripted to the heavens, you can still save 99% of $200K on your OLP licenses.

    I've used Microsoft Office and LibreOffice over the years, and actually prefer the, price, ease of use and capabilities of LibreOffice anyday. You owe it to your and your organisations competitiveness to try it out.

    I use openoffice, which pretty much has all the stuff office has.

    With Google docs, Outlook office, Openoffice, Libreoffice, AbiWord, GNU Calc, the free version of Symphony, etc, they provide the same and lets me use or import all popular file formats, from the last few years I haven't used MS-Office.

    I think that MS-Office is needed just for its enterprise features, I also read that SharePoint makes it great for document management.

    The kind of person who would click a random word document in their email is probably the kind of person using a decade old officesuite anyway.

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