Kill Microsoft Word is a column in PC Magazine — the print version. It looks as if it will outperform the online columns in both traffic and forum debate. This is highly unusual for a print column running online. I also got more mail about this column than just about anything I’ve written over the past few years. Fascinating. I’ll post some of the letters on the blog. Apparently I’m not the only one who thinks this product is past its prime.

  1. Tim Almond says:

    It’s not so much that it’s beyond its prime, more that they’ve just run out of steam on it. More and more gimmicks are being added to it with little or no productivity benefit.

    Personally, I’ve switched to Open Office at home and it’s great. For people I know run it, they get SXWs. For the rest, they get PDFs.

  2. Anonymously says:

    To quote “How to Use this Blog”: “This is not the forum on which to publish comments about the current online column in PC Magazine.”

    Can’t you follow your own rules?


    In any case, since you opened the door (and at the risk of repeating the sentiment of some other commenter from the PC Mag forums), I thought the column was right on the money and I’m not surprised a lot of other people do as well. The days when I could use WP and their fantastic “reveal codes” were good times. Word still doesn’t implement their version of it correctly.

    Everyone is stuck using Word, and I don’t think a single one of those people hasn’t had some problem with it. A problem, which, likely struck the person as incredibly stupid and “should-have-been-fixed-already.”

  3. Gary says:

    Past its prime John? Was it *ever* in its prime? I moved to it and away from WordPerfect solely because my clients were sucked into the “all things Microsoft” snow job of the 80s. That, and moving away from a Mac were two business regrets I still mutter about given the chance and a few drinks…

  4. Loy says:

    Nicely stated. Word has forever been the crappiest piece of crap that has come from that crappy software company. I have taken to using XP with NO Office programs, because they are all so crappy. I remember the first time I experienced Word 4.0 on Windows 3.0. My cup still has a dent.

    I’m sure most would ask, well, then why use ANY Microsoft product, including XP…well, in short I can’t. It pains me to say it, but due to some tools that I must use for work and customers, it’s really not possible.


  5. Frank Kwok says:

    The *one* feature in Word that I’ve really liked and used and haven’t found in other word processors is the vertical selection feature (alt-click and drag). As I recall, it first showed up in the Mac version – the late, lamented version 5.1, I believe.

    Aside from that admittedly handy feature, my wp needs are *easily* filled by other programs. That said, as a de facto standard, it doesn’t necessarily suck. But nimble it ain’t.

  6. Jim Dermitt says:

    John, It might be a good idea to just merge the blog comments and the PC Mag forum comments when you have subject this large. Call it a flog if you want. I don’t use the PC Mag forums after getting my posts slammed by Lynch. You should remember. I think it is good that you have some overlap between the column side and the blog side. Maybe you could post the top ranked PC Mag posts here at the blog. Sort of a best of, or top 10. You could tell people their opinion may become part of the this blog. Or don’t tell them, I doubt anybody would care one way or another. About Word, it is nothing to write home about. People are really writing volumes about it. I lost my brakes today in my truck if anybody cares. The good news is that I didn’t kill anybody. It’s been a good bad day.

  7. Ed Campbell says:

    I hope I’m not your great-uncle, Russ — just because I might have to admit my age. I think most folks make an easy transition to — not only from Word; but, Excel, as well — if you’re in the process of getting rid of MSoft bloat.

    I have forms I’ve been using for several years, designed in Word, and all but one have had the formats transition well to OpenWord. That one has lots of columns and tables and I’ve been just too lazy to take the time to redo it, logos and all.

    OpenWord had only a single feature that drove me nuts until I figured out how to turn it off . Never wrote it down and I’m going to have to figure it out, again — now that I’ve loaded OpenOffice on my laptop.

    What I’m still looking for is an OS that will run all these alternatives — which obviously already run w/Windows — but is written with tight, scratch code and ignores all the backward compatibilties to backwards programs and patches. Of course, it should run Intel or AMD. I ain’t about to change hardware.

  8. K B says:

    “Apparently Im not the only one who thinks this product is past its prime.”

    I have a sense that Microsoft itself is past its prime. It is getting harder and harder to survive just by outmarketing the competition.

    When is the last time that Microsoft raised excitement among consumers with a new product, or even just the usual vapor-claims about an upcoming product? (They do still *scare* consumers occasionally, as with SR2 🙂 )

    I could see Microsoft shut its doors as you recently speculated as a possibility; but I’m not sure it would so much be a choice as a recognition that there is little left to copy. Other entities are developing fully functional alternatives to Microsoft, and often these products work better. Just look at the browser wars as a small example. Then, if people in great numbers migrate from Windows to another OS, what hope does Microsoft have really? What product have they ever implemented that was not in some form a mimicry of what had gone before? What is left that needs to be copied and better marketed?

    Microsoft has done some things right. I often reflect on how much more stable and dependable WinXP is compared with earlier versions of Windows. (XP is the first Windows version which I do not reboot during the day just to clear the cobwebs.) Still, I can’t help feel that Microsoft has run with its concepts as far as it can go. Maybe they’ll surprise us, but…

    Re-reading this, I feel that I have digressed much too far from your blog post’s point (say that 10 times real fast).

    But I’ve spent too much time typing to have the heart to cancel it, so I’m gonna “SAY IT!”

  9. Am I the only one who likes Word (2003)? It’s been rock solid for me! Besides, I use UltraEdit for text editing and FrontPage for my simple web pages — not Word. Also, my installation doesn’t ask for my CD all the time because I chose to install all the features I wanted rather than the “Install on first use” option.

    Sure, if we were rethink the word processor today, it would probably be a simpler animal, but programming one is harder than it looks; otherwise, it would have been done already. We all know that WordPerfect and OpenOffice are pitiful substitutes.

  10. Josh says:

    Are you kidding me? It’s a word processor. You use it to type letters (it should never be used for HTML creation except by the most moronic of morons… oh, that’s what you use it for? Ooo, sorry). Why the hell would anyone be talking about it? And further, since when is how much something is mentioned in the media an accurate indicator of quality? George Bush is mentioned in the media all the time, but it still doesn’t mean he’s a good president (far from it). But I digress.

    The point is, Word is still the best word processor on the market. OpenOffice sucks almost as hard as WordPerfect does, which is a lot. AbiWord is promising ( but development is excruciatingly slow, so it remains incomplete. Why should Microsoft add MORE to Word? If anything, they should remove features. Dvorak, I rarely agree with you (you may be part of the reason I unsubscribed to PC Magazine–though I doubt it, the magazine itself is rather mundane), but this is the first time I’ve actually felt compelled to seek out your website and tell you you’re a doofus.

    Word is perhaps the second best thing to come out of Microsft in the Windows era (the first being Notepad, without a doubt still the best and most capable text-editor in existed–you should be using IT for all your plain text creation needs, not Word; Notepad, afterall, is free with Windows… and to anyone who tries to claim it can’t be used for any serious coding, you apparently aren’t a very good coder, since that’s all anyone who has every worked on my website (thousands of lines of PHP and XHTML) has every used. *shrug*).

    Ok, so I’m babbling now. Bottomline: Word is great. Your article is not.

  11. Wes McGee says:

    Now it’s time for the stupid question… if you’re not supposed to use a word processor to make HTML documents, then why the heck is this feature in the program? Is it common practice to add features you’re not supposed to use into a product, and then promote the use of those features in the marketing stuff surrounding the product. Do they do this to keep the programmers and marketers from getting bored and deciding to find a new job or vacation in Europe? Is it some type of secret Microsoft user test — “ooh, he foolishly put a email address in Word– he must be making a webpage. Idiot! He is too dumb to use a computer. Let’s fux his document.” “Ah ha… he’s making a complex document with dozens of levels of outlines and footers and headers, but he didn’t he didn’t use the secret keystrokes… we’re going to run the random page number routine… and fux his styles for the fun of it.”


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