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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Abandon the Word

This is not a statement about Christianity, but rather, concerns that infernal organization known as Microsoft and one of its flagship products that has badly lost its way:
Nearly two decades and several text-handling paradigms ago, I was an editorial assistant at a weekly newspaper, where a few freelancers still submitted their work on typewritten pages. Stories would come in over the fax machine. If the printout was clear enough, and if our giant flatbed scanner was in the mood, someone would scan the pages in, a text-recognition program would decipher the letters, and we would comb the resulting electronic file for nonsense and typos. If the scanner wasn't in the mood, we would prop up the hard copy beside a computer and retype the whole thing. Technology was changing fast, and some people were a few steps slow. You couldn't blame them, really, but for those of us who were fully in the computer age, those dead-tree sheets meant tedious extra work.

Nowadays, I get the same feeling of dread when I open an email to see a Microsoft Word document attached. Time and effort are about to be wasted cleaning up someone's archaic habits. A Word file is the story-fax of the early 21st century: cumbersome, inefficient, and a relic of obsolete assumptions about technology. It's time to give up on Word.
I switched over to OpenOffice years ago, then after Sun was acquired by Oracle, to LibreOffice. I had to use a recent version of Word a few months ago, and although I'd been using Word since it was first released, I found the latest version very difficult to use. It's the perfect example of a software company taking a perfectly useful, if flawed, piece of software and methodically making it less and less usable with every release.

If I was in charge of the Word project, I would throw out everything and start over from scratch. The fact that a single eight-character document is automatically transformed into a 16,224-character monster is lunacy squared.

Labels:

61 Comments:

Anonymous David Of One April 15, 2012 10:57 AM  

I couldn't agree with you more Vox.

Interestingly, the 2010 version of Office somehow seems easier to use than the "updated" predecessors. In part I think this perception is due to less pain than the previous "updated" versions as opposed to dramatic course correction.

Even at the OS level I have a bit of consternation as it appears that everything has been moved around for those users that are very experienced and have invested the appropriate amount of effort to actually learn the details of the OS.

Anonymous David Of One April 15, 2012 11:00 AM  

I should add ... that I am very pleased with Outlook 2010. Feature rich and it appears easier to use than many of the original releases.

Anonymous dh April 15, 2012 11:17 AM  

If I was in charge of the Word project, I would throw out everything and start over from scratch. The fact that a single eight-character document is automatically transformed into a 16,224-character monster is lunacy squared.

And then you'd be a failed product/program manager, along with everything else. You don't throw out working, proven code. Ever.

http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000069.html

Anonymous The Gray Man April 15, 2012 11:26 AM  

I have tried to use OpenOffice for years but I find it is terrible compared to Word. It amazes me that tech-inclined people prefer it to the ease of use that Word has--yes, Word is "harder" to use now, but it still has more features, runs more cleanly, and most people still use it.

The biggest problem is when people do things like include comments and stuff in Word documents--these things never transition well to openOffice.

Anonymous dh April 15, 2012 11:28 AM  

> The biggest problem is when people do things like include comments and
> stuff in Word documents--these things never transition well to openOffice.

I found with both platforms newer formats things are starting to work better. I use Libreoffice extensively, but interact with many DOCX documents and advanced features like commenting do function, with quirks.

Anonymous robwbright April 15, 2012 11:30 AM  

Word Perfect is Better than any of them... But I use LibreOffice for Word docs.

Anonymous The Original Arrogant Penguins Fan as OASF April 15, 2012 11:30 AM  

I still have my copy of Word 2000 on disc when the college gave it out for free to try and standardize campus software.

When friends see it their eyes bug out, and they almost always ask to borrow and return.

Anonymous Bastiat April 15, 2012 11:43 AM  

Having tried almost every single equation editing program: I can say that the newest MS Equation Editor in Word and now PowerPoint is the best for me. That, plus the free MS Mathematics add-on that exists for Word, has allowed me to make better lessons, worksheets, and tests.

Granted I had to make a Meta mode for quicker input (still do not like the ribbon).

Blogger Positive Dennis April 15, 2012 11:45 AM  

I am going to commit heresy worse than saying I believe in the Trinity, worse than saying I am a Calvinist, worse than saying I am a feminist, worse than saying Obama is a natural born citizen and I plan to vote for him. I suggest you use Pages for your writing.

Anonymous MadFrog April 15, 2012 12:00 PM  

Actually, Word 2007 onward is so much better than previous versions. Before 2007 I always used OpenOffice, as MS offered no improvement whatsoever.

For documents with equations, obviously you want to become proficient in LaTeX, but Word 2010's equation editor is actually pretty bad ass. It's infinitely better than what OpenOffice had.

I've never tried LibreOffice, but for the tiny bit of document work I do, I see no reason to stop using the newer versions of Word (2007 onward). I do download cracked versions though, so I probably would go with something like LibreOffice if this wasn't possible.

Blogger Crude April 15, 2012 12:34 PM  

Sorry for the off-topic post, but I thought Vox would find this interesting.

First, a blogger has compared the scientific achievements of Francis Collins with the Cult of Gnu leaders: http://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2012/04/15/collins-vs-gnus-2/

And second, PZ Myers has apparently been giving a pep talk to his blog monkeys:

http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/04/15/sunday-sacrilege-sacking-the-city-of-god

"I have a different metaphor for us, my brothers and sisters in atheism. We are not sheep; there are no shepherds here. I look out from this stage and I see 4000 pairs of hunter’s eyes, 4000 hunter’s minds, 4000 pairs of hunter’s hands. I see the primeval primate hunting band grown large and strong. I see us so confident in our strength that we laugh at our enemies. I see a people thinking and planning, fierce and focused, learning and building new tools to conquer new worlds.

You are not sheep. You, my brothers and sisters in atheism, are a fierce, coordinated hunting pack — men and women working together, and those other bastards have cause to fear us. So let’s do it: make them tremble as we demolish the city of god."

It's really some seriously dorky stuff. Worth a look for humor value at least.

Anonymous Anonymous April 15, 2012 12:51 PM  

WordPerfect is still the best.

Joe Doakes
Saint Paul, Minnesota

Blogger Matthew April 15, 2012 2:11 PM  

I came here to troll for LaTeX, but MadFrog beat me to it.

Anonymous Outlaw X April 15, 2012 2:13 PM  

Man you are exactly right, I use open office for free but donated and we use Autocad at work and I could have stole it at home but I use ProgeCAD at home it only cost 800 dollars and is still user friendly. I hate Autocad. They have made it unusable.

Anonymous Outlaw X April 15, 2012 2:21 PM  

Let me further explain, we have three Cad Techs and they are constantly wasting time asking how to do some simple this or that. They have over complicated the program. Everyone like bells and whistles but too many and too much defeats the purpose.

Anonymous Zartan April 15, 2012 2:29 PM  

I agree about .doc files as attachments - but (as my co-workers can attest) my personal crusade is to get people to stop making pretty attachments when you could just as easily put the message in the body!

I should not have to install Adobe Reader to read a memo sent to me in an email! When your entire email is "please read attached" you FAIL!
/ENDRANT

Blogger Markku April 15, 2012 2:51 PM  

If LaTeX is too complex for you (and it probably is), use Markdown. Or if you need more features such as footnotes, use MultiMarkdown. Note: Any Markdown document is automatically a MultiMarkdown document, so you can just start with the former and move on to the latter when necessary.

You will be eternally thankful to yourself that you did, if you find seven years later that you need to edit the document and publish it again. By that point, almost any other format would have been obsoleted.

Anonymous Kiwi the Geek April 15, 2012 3:00 PM  

The worst thing about the new Word is that stupid button bar that replaced the menus. M$ likes to get us used to things, and then change it all in inscrutable ways to confuse us. But the companies buy the latest and greatest and delete the old version from all the computers, so we're forced to wrestle with it instead of being productive.

Yeah, there are a few bugs & deficiencies in OpenOffice, but at least I don't have to deal with an interface that thwarts me.

Anonymous revrogers April 15, 2012 3:05 PM  

Word is the Devil's word processor. I liked Nota Bene but had to switch to WordPerfect which I really enjoy. I am forced to use Word now and then but do the bulk of my work in WordPerfect. The reveal codes feature is the best.

Anonymous Outlaw X April 15, 2012 3:34 PM  

Word is the Devil's word processor. I liked Nota Bene but had to switch to WordPerfect which I really enjoy. I am forced to use Word now and then but do the bulk of my work in WordPerfect. The reveal codes feature is the best.

I have to review complex engineering documents in MS Word all the time and they make it more and more difficult with there structure to do it. Every time you have a new release it is so damn different you have to re-learn and I am too damn old for that. When I first started working we were way behind the times and still using manual typewriters in the mid 1980's, now we are huffing and puffing to keep up and it sucks.

Blogger Galt-in-Da-Box April 15, 2012 3:54 PM  

I actually deleted the factory-installed version of MSOffice that came with my machine because Wordpad in Windows is easier to use.
Office 97 was infinitely superior to the latest perversion, but that's the classic pattern with Microschlock: Improve all the quality out of it!

Anonymous DT April 15, 2012 4:09 PM  

Microsoft peaked around the time of XP. I remember XP didn't constantly crash or annoy the hell out of me. Before the million+ security updates it has received over the years it didn't even seem that bloated. Office was decent through 2003. And the .NET system was actually pretty well thought out initially.

Since then everything has gone downhill at Microsoft. Vista was a PoS. Office 2007 imposed an awful and confusing UI on customers who had committed the old UI to memory over years of use. To this very day people I know who have to use Office every week are perhaps 30% as capable in it as the old version, and will revert to the old version when possible to accomplish some tasks.

.NET? It has become convoluted as Microsoft has chased every possible fad in programming. Even die hard .NET users admit to me that they never know what the current "best practice" is for the most simple tasks.

Not to mention my most hated Microsoft product: Internet Explorer. IE adheres to no standards and can't run any standard JavaScript. It's a nightmare to support even when using jQuery. I have clients who have reverted to blocking IE users with a message that tells them to download a real browser. I wish everyone would do that. If the IE team had any honor they would perform seppuku.

Everything Microsoft has touched since the early 2000's has become buggy, bloated, stupid, and slow.

Vox hates Apple, sometimes for valid (if exaggerated) reasons. But they mop the floor with Microsoft in terms of stability, security, and usability. I never find myself cursing at an Apple UI design. (Well...I was pretty annoyed with some changes to Lion, but at least you could turn most of them off.)

This is going to sound crazy given Microsoft's installed base, but I don't see much of a future for them. iOS and Android dominate the tablet/phone market where Microsoft hasn't even crossed the starting line. The gulf between Mac OS X and Windows continues to grow at the high end, and Windows 8 looks like a joke. At the low end (in terms of price, not capability) the Linux variants are growing up and becoming easier to use on top of being faster/more efficient/far more secure. The only thing keeping Windows afloat is an exhaustive library of Win32 software. If WINE ever achieves a high enough level of compatibility, you could see the clone market dump Windows for Linux.

Microsoft is yesterday's news.

Anonymous SouthTX April 15, 2012 4:26 PM  

Yeah WTF with Word? We have to print out critical procedures for what we do. Since the company got a newer version of Word it is a pain in the ass to do. Shouldn't simple things be easier. Not worse?

Anonymous bw April 15, 2012 4:29 PM  

Vista was a PoS - DT

Oh, I assure you, ours on our laptop still is. And your comment on it is much, much too civil.

because Wordpad in Windows is easier to use - GITB

Ditto

Anonymous Kiwi the Geek April 15, 2012 5:08 PM  

I remember when I started college in 1996. I had never used a modern word-processing program or any spreadsheet, never seen the internet, never sent an email, rarely seen a GUI. The first CS lab assignment was basically "learn to use Word, Excel, and email" with no help. Back then, it was possible for an intelligent newbie to figure out how it worked pretty easily. Now, it's confusing for an experienced user. Great job, Billy.

Anonymous Mike M. April 15, 2012 6:16 PM  

Hey, the company isn't knows as Microshoddy for nothing.

Anonymous rycamor April 15, 2012 6:28 PM  

dh April 15, 2012 11:17 AM

If I was in charge of the Word project, I would throw out everything and start over from scratch. The fact that a single eight-character document is automatically transformed into a 16,224-character monster is lunacy squared.

And then you'd be a failed product/program manager, along with everything else. You don't throw out working, proven code. Ever.

http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000069.html


Bah...

I'm very familiar with Joel's pronouncements. He has some good things to say, but this is mostly blatter. No code is "proven". There is a continuum of code quality vs. code cruft in any project, and at some point the cruft ratio becomes too high to be worth the continual uphill battle of fixing things, especially if the codebase went off the rails at some point. You can't build a skyscraper on a shack's foundations. At some point it is far better to just start over, AS LONG as one is willing to count the cost.

Joel uses Netscape as the example, but let's face it, Netscape 4.0 was a disaster, and IE 5.0 blew it out of the water, quality-wise. Netscape the company was not going to survive anyway, so there was no downside to a complete rewrite, and in the long run, they were proved right. Mozilla did set next-generation standards that seriously rocked the software world (where else has such a complete, well-rounded, extensible piece of software been produced that runs identically on literally every operating system that matters?). If it hadn't been for Mozilla/Firefox, the web would have been a far uglier place by now, IMHO.

Anonymous Kriston April 15, 2012 6:35 PM  

I usually use vi.

There I said it!

I stopped upgrading when I saw all the unnecessary changes that were made to Orifice 97. Not much improvement, but EVERYTHING was moved around. Every upgrade that was forced on me turned back on that horrible auto capitalization feature, and moved the menu setting to turn it off. When your documents are filled with acronyms you don't want the program to keep telling you it knows best.

Anonymous Kriston April 15, 2012 6:38 PM  

Mike M. April 15, 2012 6:16 PM

Hey, the company isn't knows as Microshoddy for nothing.


Remember: Never buy a product from a man who names his company after his manhood.

Anonymous rycamor April 15, 2012 6:40 PM  

Yup, Kriston. Word for Windows 2.0 was a nice, efficiently-laid-out piece of software. It was probably the most intuitive wordprocessor I have seen. So of course, Microsoft had to muck it up. Once '97 came, it was downhill from there.

Even the latest LibreOffice wordprocessor still isn't as sensible or intuitive as Word for Windows 2.0, although it's a long shot better than the alternatives.

Blogger Roy Lofquist April 15, 2012 7:36 PM  

I first molested a computer in about 1961, so I guess I've been observing the scene for about 50 years. Roy's rule: Version 2.1 is always the best.

Most innovative programs are developed by a lone wolf or a very small group. Once the program becomes popular the original developer incorporates the lessons learned and the wish list and produce version 2. The bugs are cleaned up and thus, 2.1.

After that the maintenance programmers and the marketing guys commence their gory evisceration and a beautiful flower becomes skunk cabbage. Happens every time.

Anonymous David Of One April 15, 2012 7:48 PM  

Vox and the Ilk ... you'll love this ... GIGO ... Bad Brain Bill=Poor S/W and poor thinking

On Thursday, as part of the G20 summit, Bill Gates, former Microsoft CEO and chairman, multi-billionaire, delivered a report on “financing for development” that proposes global taxes on America and other “rich” nations to make the Global Poverty Act a reality.

First billionaire Warren Buffet and now Bill Gates advocate increased taxes – hey Bill and Warren, you guys first! ...

http://blogs.e-rockford.com/tedbiondo/2011/11/07/bill-gates-advocates-global-tax-on-u-s-and-others/

Anonymous dh April 15, 2012 8:38 PM  

> No code is "proven".

Tell it to Don Knuth and Dennis Ritchie. or DJ Bernstein.

> You can't build a skyscraper on a shack's foundations.

No, but you can always refactor code. Software "engineering" isn't actual engineering. The building won't fall over if you replace a wall. It either compiles or doesn't.

> Netscape 4.0 was a disaster, and IE 5.0 blew it out of the water

Right, and the fix killed Netscape the company and zeroed out lots of investors, giving control of the Internet to Microsoft for nearly a decade, during which the worst practices and elements of MS infected a previously open internet architecture. It took the coercive power of government in the US and Europe to break the log jam, plus a re-surgent Apple, plus a little company called Google sinking big money into Mozilla.

> (where else has such a complete, well-rounded, extensible piece of software been produced that runs
> identically on literally every operating system that matters?).
Emacs.

The premise of the rewrite of Mozilla was to create the XUL platform, and then implement the browser in XUL. At the same time they developed the Gecko rendering engine. There was no reason to do both at the same time. Joel is 100% right that the rewrite re-invented things that didn't work. Everyone who had a brain new that a new rendering engine was needed, but there was no reason to release it before it was good enough.

Anonymous rycamor April 15, 2012 8:53 PM  

dh,

Yes, there is a subset of commercial software that is proven in the formal sense, and that accounts for about .01% of the viable, useful software in the world. It does exist, but it is hardly the norm.

Netscape of course made many blunders, but the fact is there was no way around Microsoft controlling the internet for a decade. I don't care how much 'refactoring' of the old Netscape that could have occurred. That was just the direction of business. Netscape was founded on the idea of charging money for a browser, and the instant Microsoft released a viable one for free, that ride was over. The investors should have seen that one coming from day one. Ergo, what became of Mozilla was the only way to salvage some value out of what helped found the internet. I grant that it was a business failure but the failure wasn't in the choice to rewrite Netscape. It was in thinking Netscape alone could be a viable product, rather than a commoditized complement to some commercial value-added product. Netscape tried that with Livewire and other server-side products, but it was never the right time, right place.

The premise of XUL/Gecko was brilliant, although it had a lot of problems, but even in 2003 I built a commercial product around it (touchscreen imaging systems). I really think it was one of the most under-appreciated technologies to exist over the last decade.

Anonymous rycamor April 15, 2012 8:59 PM  

Roy's rule: Version 2.1 is always the best.

Nice. And so true. I found that to be exactly the case on my own projects.

Anonymous James Dixon April 15, 2012 9:18 PM  

> You don't throw out working, proven code. Ever.

The words "Microsoft" and "working, proven code" simply don't go together.

> I usually use vi.

Likewise. If I must use a word processor, Abiword seems to be the least offensive of the lot.

> Tell it to Don Knuth and Dennis Ritchie. or DJ Bernstein.

You know, I don't think any of those folks work or ever have worked at Microsoft.

Anonymous Orville April 15, 2012 9:39 PM  

Office 07 was better, and 2010 was still another improvement. I tried Open Office but I just didn't see the payoff in learning it just to get free software.

My biggest gripe against Redmond is that they f%cked up Access when they significantly changed it in 07. I had to relearn a whole lot of things, and it is harder to use that Access 03 and earlier.

And IE is still a piece of dog sh!t. Even 8 and 9 still don't render CSS like it should. I have two computers at home running Win 7 and IE 9, both nearly the same box, and IE 9 consistently rolls over and plays dead on one of them, for no discernible reason. I'd use Firefox, but the one work related website I have to use is and IE cripple (they test for the browser and if it ain't IE, you don't get in).

Anonymous Anonymous April 15, 2012 10:02 PM  

Let's not forget Excel.

I work with Excel every day, several hours a day ( for my sins), and as a consultant hang around with other XL geeks professionally, and have yet to find a SINGLE XL2003 power user who likes XL2007 and Xl2010, the whole "ribbon technology" drives us bonkers. We've gotten used to it, but we don't like it. (Never mind the constantly shifting option placement and naming conventions, seriously we don't keep a fig where MS wants to put things, but quit moving them already.)

The developers I work with who deal with the VBA interfaces and various API's have even dimmer opinions of MS. Don't even get them started on .net3 vs .net4, spittle and rude words follow.

Blogger mmaier2112 April 15, 2012 10:03 PM  

Everything MS does gets worse with every release.

How they manage to do that is beyond me.

Maybe Gates has a death wish and is just messing with us to see how far he can push the world without being lynched?

Anonymous rycamor April 15, 2012 10:22 PM  

mmaier2112 April 15, 2012 10:03 PM

Everything MS does gets worse with every release.


Microsoft does produce genuinely good software now and then. Windows 2000 (before IE 5.5 co-opted half the OS) was a decent workstation.

IE 5 was probably one of their best software releases ever, to be completely screwed up with 5.5 and beyond.

C# is a pretty good programming language, although .NET makes for a lot of bloat.

SQL Server is a good DBMS.

Generally, the problem with Microsoft seems to be that they have identified an algorithm to keep people coming back: a combination of forced upgrades and constant feature changes to keep people engaged at learning the "new" system. If they made things too straightforward and intuitive, AND never forced upgrades through corporate channels, then people would happily use the old software for years. However, forced to learn the new thing at work, people then update their home systems to avoid mental overload.

Blogger Kentucky Packrat April 15, 2012 10:39 PM  

LaTeX is the #1 typesetting option, with groff (Google it, if needed) a #2 option. If you can't learn LaTex directly (and anyone posting here can do so), look at LyX.

Office 2011 is the best looking version of desktop Word. but that's not saying much. The files are horrendous, getting consistent formatting is more luck than design.

I put Milady's sister on LibreOffice and haven't looked back. We're probably going to switch to Pages at home; it's an decent short-document writer.

Anonymous Kriston April 15, 2012 11:06 PM  

Access is not a database.

It is a crime against humanity.

They bought FoxPro, one of the best of its day, then killed it to inflict Access on us.

Anonymous JMH April 15, 2012 11:25 PM  

The problem with Microsoft is the same as with many companies with "modern management" theories. Nobody gets credit for making something incrementally better. People, expecially Group Program Managers who want to get promoted to General Manager, and General Managers who want to make VP, only get rewarded for doing something radiacally different. Usually on the cheap.

So a reasonably functional Office menu bar gets replaced by the abomination of the Ribbon Bar. Or an IE that was slowly getting better is abandoned.

Mmaier2012 blames Gates, but the truth is for the 25 or so years Gates ran the company, they did pretty good. Got something to market quick, then made steady improvements year after year. You can complain about any particular product, fair enough, but the trajectory was generally positive up to 2000 or so. It was after Ballmer took over that they started going backwards.

And you absolutely do occasionally throw out code if you know what you're doing. Joelonsoftware has some decent ideas, but he goes overboard on this one. You don't gratuitously throw it out just to do it your way, but some code is simply too fragile to work with and needs to be rewritten.

Anonymous rycamor April 15, 2012 11:46 PM  

Kriston April 15, 2012 11:06 PM

Access is not a database.

It is a crime against humanity.

They bought FoxPro, one of the best of its day, then killed it to inflict Access on us.


Access+VBA is the abomination for which Microsoft should do penance for the next 20 years. Nothing can be more maddening than this almost/quite/sometimes combination of solutions. You would not believe how many corporations trust their core business logic to this... this Yugo of the software world.

Anonymous JMac April 16, 2012 12:25 AM  

Lotus WordPro worked really well. It was intuitive, yet full featured. But IBM rolled over in the face of MS.

MS Word, IMO, has ruined the potential of desk-top publishing for the average person. If I want to write a simple document with some creative formatting, I might spend 30 minutes on content and one to two hours wrestling with Word to undo what it did and try to force it to format the document the way I want while tearing my hair out asking "Why did it do that!?" So I try to avoid using the program. I used to use Publisher if I cared at all about a document's looks, but Publisher is a back-water program that MS doesn't do a good job of supporting.

I've tried Open Office but don't really like it.

Anonymous Sensei April 16, 2012 1:39 AM  

Open Office, or at least 3.3, is a buggy piece of crap. It's crashed on me for various inane reasons, and looking them up all I get is "yeah, it does that."

I am planning on scrapping it and trying out LibreOffice, which I've heard is superior. Can anyone here testify to its comparative advantages/disadvantages?

Anonymous VryeDenker April 16, 2012 4:41 AM  

I had the good fortune of having to write XSL transforms to turn our proprietary XML format into the Word .docx format). I resigned after a year. It's not that it's confusing. It's just so verbose and labourious that you never feel like you're making any kind of progress.

Anonymous FrankNorman April 16, 2012 5:13 AM  


"I have a different metaphor for us, my brothers and sisters in atheism. We are not sheep; there are no shepherds here. I look out from this stage and I see 4000 pairs of hunter’s eyes, 4000 hunter’s minds, 4000 pairs of hunter’s hands. I see the primeval primate hunting band grown large and strong. I see us so confident in our strength that we laugh at our enemies. I see a people thinking and planning, fierce and focused, learning and building new tools to conquer new worlds.

You are not sheep. You, my brothers and sisters in atheism, are a fierce, coordinated hunting pack — men and women working together, and those other bastards have cause to fear us. So let’s do it: make them tremble as we demolish the city of god."


Smart uniform, little square mustache, and waves his hands a lot while talking?

Anonymous Lugo April 16, 2012 6:56 AM  

Around the first time Clippy launched himself, uninvited, between me and something I was trying to write, I found myself wishing Word had a simple, built-in button for "cut it out and never again do that thing you just did."

Wow, I haven't thought about that incredibly annoying paperclip in years!

Blogger LP 999/Eliza April 16, 2012 7:14 AM  

Totally annoying. HR types still want Word docs.

Anonymous FrankNorman April 16, 2012 8:05 AM  

I read once that when a Micro$oft speaker demonstrated to an audience how the new version of "Word" allowed one to turn off the paperclip, he got a standing ovation.

My impression of MS products is that they are so over-focussed on newbie users, they are simply offensive to anyone not a newbie.
Oh, and feature bloat.

Anonymous rycamor April 16, 2012 11:32 AM  

Just watch any random video of a new Microsoft OS or product being demoed. When the inevitable blue screen appears, what do you hear? Boos, taunts? No... you hear applause, cheers and laughter. People love it. Most people absolutely love the mediocrity of Microsoft, because it is so reassuring. Our technocratic masters don't have everything figured out. If my computer crashes, maybe it's not just because I'm an idiot.

Anonymous TMQ Fanboy April 16, 2012 2:35 PM  

The fact that a single eight-character document is automatically transformed into a 16,224-character monster is lunacy squared.

This is absolute nonsense and just more evidence that the author of the screed is technologically illiterate. I repeated his experiment, using the link provided, and got the following output (carrots have been replaced by squigle brackets so that it isn't read as code in the post):

{font face="Times New Roman"}

{/font}{p style="margin: 0in 0in 10pt;" class="MsoNormal"}{font face="Calibri"}The word.{?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /}{o:p}{/o:p}{/font}{/p}{font face="Times New Roman"}

{/font}

which is roughly 2% of his indicting character count.

But let's all congratulate the author for discovering that he can type a blog post in Gmail...

Anonymous ben April 16, 2012 3:28 PM  

Who uses word to create an eight-character document anyway? I use wordpad or notepad for simple stuff like that. For actual content rich documents, say >= 8 characters, I use Word, and I'm quite fond of it for ease of use and document sharing.

I did a TON of latex document creation during grad school and it's unmatched for academic use in math and real sciences, but latex documents can't be shared in a simple matter with ordinary folks. The ribbon kicks ass FWIW, once a person moves on and learns the new UI. I always hated the old pull down menu UI crap.

Word still sucks for equation editing, at least as of Office 2007. I've not moved on to 2010 yet, so I use a latex equation editor in Word and Power Point.

Blogger Markku April 16, 2012 3:57 PM  

TMQ Fanboy: My result was 12 666 bytes, and size on disk is 16 384 bytes. The latter matching with the original result implies that the writer is indeed somewhat technologically illiterate, since that number is an artifact of how hard drives work. But the former is still very different than what you got. I used Word 2010 and saved in the default .docx format. Looking at the contents in XEmacs, it is mostly binary vomit.

Blogger Markku April 16, 2012 3:59 PM  

I didn't do anything else than launch Word, type 1234568 and then Save As.

Anonymous TMQ Fanboy April 16, 2012 4:14 PM  

I just did what he did, typed "the Word", Select All, Copy, then Paste into that website. Of course there's going to be markup language establishing the file as a document, etc. that's the point of the format. Even someone as dull as that author should be able appreciate that when you re-save a .doc as a .docx, the file size is usually cut by 1/3 or more.

Blogger Markku April 16, 2012 4:23 PM  

Did you save it first (I interpret "created a file" as saving it), and did you look at the Original HTML tab? When I copypasted the contents of that tab to XEmacs and saved it as txt, the file was 36 118 bytes.

Anonymous TMQ Fanboy April 16, 2012 4:36 PM  

I did not save it; I didn't get the impression that he saved it, either. What I pasted was the original HTML. But I don't know what the problem with a few extra KB is. I write blog posts in Word all the time and then copy and paste them into the text box on WordPress. Never had anything else show up. And, as you said, tiny files are made larger by the disk, and like I said, large .doc files are made smaller by .docx, so win win.

Anonymous James Dixon April 16, 2012 8:14 PM  

> ...but the one work related website I have to use is and IE cripple (they test for the browser and if it ain't IE, you don't get in).

You can tell Firefox to lie and say it's IE. Look for the User Agent Switcher add-on. Now, if the site is coded for IE, this may not work, but it should let you in.

> Lotus WordPro worked really well.

It was OK, but I know people who still swear by it's predecessor, AmiPro. People absolutely loved that word processor.

Blogger Markku April 16, 2012 9:04 PM  

Taking a closer look, the large size comes over 99% from stylesheet definition. Meaning, it is a one-time overhead. As the user types more text, it is going to increase only a bit faster than byte per letter. It is not terribly unclean. Things would be much worse if it encoded massive amounts of local style to each paragraph.

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