Microsoft Word

A very comprehensive word processor put out by MicrosoftCorporation. Quite a few people have MicrosoftWordComplaints.

The de facto WordProcessor. However, it is not universal. You may want to consider saving as a RichTextFormat document since that is MicroSoft's recommended method of transferring/exporting documents. Be warned that RTF loses some formatting information - see RichTextFormat for (very little) more information.

I love MS Word. Can't wait for the Linux version ;-) (See AllRoadsLeadToRome...) -- some guy

MacOsx might be the only UNIX OS where MicrosoftWord runs. -- TakuyaMurata That's a strike against it....

MacOS is not really Unix. It's the Mach kernel, a BSD server, and Display PDF for graphics. Its underlying configuration and user database uses the NeXT "Net Info" system, instead of files in /etc. From a simple application point of view, it's Unix compatible, but from an administrative side, it's just NeXT Step (a system that ran fine in 8MB of RAM!!). The NeXT was Mach kernel (Mach has known issues), a BSD server over Mach, and Display Postscript. Ever see the spinning color wheel? That's NeXT! Not Unix! -- EvanLanglois

Some people use Microsoft Word files as the standard document interchange format; in particular, as attachments to emails.

MicrosoftWord has been used too long in too many places, something like 20 years in every country in the world. It has created so many documents, one could scarcely have time in a lifetime to read their titles. It keeps on growing and improving, and although I would like to switch to something brand new, used only on my computer, my fear is that no-one could read or use the documents I create. There is something definitely wrong with such a ubiquitous and universal program. The millions of users are wrong for using it. I would like to use something I and millions are familiar with when I write my next book. There are those who say that I should boldly go where virtually no one has gone, to something new and unfamiliar. They say, "Think of how much fun You will have learning how to use its marvelous and wonderful features." ;-)


MicrosoftWord's customizability can make it worth using for certain tasks. For example, copyediting scientific papers in Word format is made much easier by Word's ability to remap the keyboard. On the other hand, this encourages CompulsiveCustomizers.

Reported Bugs

At least in certain configurations, Word 2000 crashes if you type too quickly. I kid you not, it's a known bug. I don't know which configurations are affected, but the German language version on NT with syllable detection (?) enabled is one of them. -- FalkBruegmann

I haven't witnessed it myself (because I don't use Word), but I've heard from at least five people that once your document is big enough (100+ pages or so) you have about a 50% chance of Word messing it up every time you edit it... -- PanuKalliokoski

Virus problems, and if you use the wrong document version with the wrong version of Word, it simply crashes. The file format isn't open or standard at all!

See MicrosoftWordComplaints.


There was a really clean office suite for BeOS by Gobe, and it's my understanding that a port is underway. See for more. Gobe Productive was ported to Windows and a Linux version will be produced.

If it looks familiar, it's because it shares a common heritage with AppleWorks.

WordPerfect also still exists. It's still quite popular in government.

I very much discourage anyone from using MicrosoftWord. If you need a wordprocessor, just use StarOffice, otherwise, use a TextEditor.

I tried StarOffice. It made a mess of the formatting of my Word documents, and crashed twice. Word 2000 on Win 2000 hasn't crashed yet. I need a word processor. What should I use instead of Microsoft Word? -- EricUlevik

Go to and use it instead of StarOffice. It is the Open Source version of StarOffice with many enhancements. Runs on multiple platforms. -- Wayne

What are the enhancements over StarOffice? I thought it _was_ StarOffice with bits missing (e.g. some fonts) The code base diverged, they are very similar but no longer the same. -- EvanLanglois

Also try LyX (LyEks). There is also a KDE version (in CVS only at this time). LyX is incredibly simple, and uses LaTeX as its back-end to produce the finished document, so it looks really professional (better than MS-Word IMHO). It can output in lots of formats, including ps, pdf, sgml, tex, html, docbook, and others. You'll like it! -- EvanLanglois

LyX, for all its failings, is better than any MSWord style word processor because it more closely adheres to the principle of OnceAndOnlyOnce, that is it separates formatting from meaning. You only have to format at most once, and if you don't want to format, you just reuse a style. That's what is called WhatYouSeeIsWhatYouMean?. I never use word processors, they waste too much time. Eventually they will follow LyX, they are getting that way. -- MikeAmy?

Also existing is AbiWord. It's just a word processor instead of a full office-suite, but it's open source, cross-platform, and does a pretty good job of reading (my admittedly simple) MSWord documents.


Some non-Microsoft Word users are put off by large corporations asking that your resume be in Word format. A slick way around this is to have your resume in HTML (HyperTextMarkupLanguage), then rename the file thus: resume.htm -> resume.doc. Word will open the file just like a native format with nary a ripple. Works great! -- FrankRobinson

You can do the same thing with RTF. -- DougKing

Meaning of course that the large corporation was impressed by your abilities to slickly comply to their format requests and you got the job!

Word as a Wiki

Since Word has macros, AutoCorrect? and internal hyperlinks, has anyone implemented Wiki-like features for Word? Sounds silly but maybe it is possible? -- Clint

There's a (minimal) implementation on WikiDoc....

A Pattern of Poor Program Design Decisions

My questions seem real to me; if I'm missing something important, please tell me what it is. If this is OffTopic for this entry, I'm happy to move it or for it to be moved. The headline on JohnDvorak?'s column (PCMagazine 090704 page 59) is Kill Microsoft Word. ....

(I disagree with a comment on MicrosoftWordComplaints along the lines of: Since Word is a WordProcessor, complaining about its ability to handle graphics is irrelevant or unfair. Given the hype Microsoft has always given to Office's graphic abilities and its reliance on a GUI, Word's ability to handle graphics in general and its consistency in doing so is exactly the point. If it weren't for graphics (and work place expectations), I'd always use a text editor. Word is the only Microsoft product I ever bought voluntarily; I wanted its equation editor. Then I found out that Microsoft licenses the equation editor from a third party and, if you want the whole thing you have to buy it from that firm. It's worth it, given the writing I do, but...)

... the problems Dvorak and others and I have with Word (and other MicrosoftProducts?) seem to be based on high-level design decisions. Programmers working on products like MicrosoftWord do not make decisions like these, do they? Some of them are more general problems with computers and networks, but even those seem to be worse with Microsoft products. What was the strategic or CustomerService or ... goal, for example, in changing (or not fixing): What happened to testing software with values out of the design range to make sure nothing bad would happen whenever program design was the topic. Is that concept no longer taught? If it is taught, why do the incentives programmers face discourage such care? I understand why programmers avoid making such tests without incentives; show me a blank copy of your performance evaluation form, and I'll describe your behavior.

Why doesn't the WindowsRegistry? follow good DataBaseDesign? practice in minimizing duplicate entries? Is the overhead in TableLookups? so great that processor chips could not handle them if the WindowsRegistry? were normalized?

If users should avoid InternetExplorer because of its security flaws, slowness, and lack of features (as numerous commentators have suggested over the last few months) and avoid MicrosoftWord because of problems like those listed here (JohnDvorak? is the first I've seen, but can other commentators be far behind?), how long will it take products that share high level design decisions with these to reach the same point? Is Microsoft on the edge of self destruction? --GeorgeBrower

[Dvorak reports that} Word in Office 2003 reinstalls features over and over...] My installation doesn't do this. It works just fine.

What was the strategic or CustomerService or ... goal, for...: The goal for most of your examples was presumably the possibly erroneous belief that they would improve something for the users. If MS and other developers are only permitted to fix bugs and add features in successive releases, they can't improve what's already there, even if that turns out to have been a mistake.

I am happy to grant MS the goal of trying new things, but I do think that intentions and outcomes can and should be compared. The problems with graphics and large documents go back to v6 in my experience, for example, and they are not small. Office 2000 (I think) made "float over text" the default way to paste the default graphic type. That can be a useful feature, and I'm sure they heard from users who wanted it, but making it the default is like Coca-Cola replacing their standard product with New, tastes like Pepsi, Coke back in the 80's. I never found a way to change the default; every time a stats student pasted a graphic, they had to do Edit>Paste Special, click Picture, unclick "Float over text," click OK, ... That gets old for them and old for me in my own work. Why make an unusual setting, no matter how desirable it is in some situations, the default? Why not test changes like that with people who use them, like tech writers? They changed it back in XP (and I did check that time!).

The way tables are created and edited? I don't think Word has been good at table creation and editing in any version but they should be permitted to try and improve things.

I do not suggest that they not try things, but they should test changes with non-programmers, non-IT people who use the product. Ask some freelance writers to try out changes like "float over text" or the more recent table default "adjust column width to fit" that pushes graphics off the page. They buried the check box and didn't allow users to change it (as far as I know). Even if individual users could change the default (either float over text or adjust column width), students use networked machines whose defaults are locked down on disk images that are burned once a year, before any user gets a chance to try them. Even if they could change the default, they'd have to do it every time! I'm not blaming our IT people; I can't think of another way they could do it but the design decision is even more important than on my personal machine where I could change defaults if it was possible.

Is testing out of range values no longer taught? If it is, why do the incentives programmers face discourage such care? I imagine it is taught, and such testing is done within MS. Exhaustive testing is impossible. Office 2003 is rather more stable than previous versions, so they're doing something apparently right.

On average, version changes in MS products make things better for some users and WinXP was a big one. Until then, cumulative changes in the OS did not support the claims MS made for it, though. Except for large documents, Office '97 did everything I asked of it except manage large documents, and that was at least partly a Windows and pre-pentium hardware problem. Exhaustive testing is impossible, but buffer overflows have been a known problem for many years. Would it be impossible to identify all buffers and the then test the code that uses them against extreme values with an algorithm? Is asking for tests of new features with people who will be affected by changes in particular areas too much to ask?

questions like these pop up in every Microsoft product I use Questions like this turn up in every non-trivial software product I use.

''OK, but do questions like you and I have suggest that there is something broken in the process of making design decisions and testing the software that follows? Since Windows and Office are so critical to so many organizations, are problems like these and the "code bloat" behind them as critical as those who recommend dropping IE and, perhaps, Word, suggest? What are the odds that Office or Windows will become unusable? That's the critical question in Dvorak's column, and Woody Leonhard's newsletters and web page, and the experience of people who just use the stuff.

How do you get a MSWord document into a wiki? (Not just a link to the document.) Which wikis can do this, and which can't?
One wiki that does exactly that is Wordonwiki, a product that lets you use MSWord to create/edit Wiki pages. (disclaimer, I am the Wordonwiki Product Manager). What you can do in MSWord, you get in the Wiki: tables, lists, pictures, graphs,.. all in the fancy Microsoft Word wysiwyg we all know. Have a look at - Roland

CategorySoftwareTool CategoryMicrosoft MicrosoftOffice

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