Death to Word

I hate Microsoft Word with a flaming purple passion.

I have no knowledge of programming, of code, anything like that. But, I have been using word processing since it first became generally available, in the offices of the early 80’s. The first one I used was a Lanier, a stand-alone computer that several of us shared, saving our work on floppy disks, and weren’t we just the high-tech shit, too! To manage information about donations and donors for the college I worked for, I was able to build a database (using dBase, does anyone remember that?) and integrate that with the Lanier program to create “personalized” fundraising letters for different categories of people. I wrote letters on it, and small health handouts with the text forming specific shapes, and articles for the school magazine. And I did all of that with one machine, without white-out, without carbon paper. To compare, in the job before that, I’d typed up, to be camera-ready for printing, an entire library catalog on a typewriter. (Yes, I’m old.)

That Lanier was revolutionary. It was efficient. It was wonderful.

I write and type a lot, and I’ve been writing and typing a lot for a long time, and as far as I’m concerned, the mark of quality technology is whether I can use it easily and whether it does what I want it to do with a minimum of fuss.

Microsoft Word sucks.

I’ve used a variety of programs since those first Lanier days, some Lotus and some WordStar, but mainly WordPerfect. (No Wang, and I’m disappointed about that, because “Wang” is just fun to say.) And here’s the thing. Before the most recent one (a horror story I won’t go into here), the attorneys I’d worked for hated Word as much as I did. It’s buggy, it’s cumbersome, it just decides to do things its own way no matter how much you tell it to do what you want. It’s not intuitive at all. With WordPerfect and those others, if I wanted to, say, set off a section of text with single-spacing and double indent, I could click a couple of things and figure it out, without utterly destroying the surrounding paragraphs like some ebola pandemic for formatted text. I sat down to use these programs and I just used them, producing professional-grade documents, no big deal. With Word? Not even close. My bosses, smart and learned men all, saw this as well, and stuck with WordPerfect. They might still be using it, but I’m not sure Windows even supports it anymore. I’m pretty sure that’s intentional.

As I poke around the job-hunting area here and there, what dismays me is that everyone requires “proficiency with Word.” That damned program has somehow has become the industry standard, and I can’t for the life of me figure out why. Why is something so incredibly popular, when you need several days of training to even learn how to use it? Why is it so incredibly popular, when even after such training you still have to battle the bugs, the bugs that only get embedded more deeply with each new release? And most of all, why is it so incredibly popular, when you have to pay money for this?

I’ve managed to get through more than two years of college now, producing four-point-oh quality research papers, essays, and slide presentations while steadfastly refusing to use Word, for the simple reason that there’s better stuff out there. There is Google Docs, which performs all of the necessary functions of Word and requires no hard drive storage beyond a flash drive if I’m really paranoid about something. Sign up for a Google account, keep your stuff on the cloud, and access it from anywhere. I’ve worked on research papers using my phone while waiting at the Metro station. If the cloud makes you nervous, there is Libre Office, which is a free download worthy of any donation you may wish to make, and does a grand job. Both are much more intuitive than Word; I don’t need three goddamn “ribbons” with hieroglyphs and a doorstop For Dummies book to figure out how to do stuff. Both are bug-free as far as I can tell, both are compatible with Word so there are no translation problems when you do run into Word, which is out there like a plague. Both Google and Libre Office have other offerings similar to those of Microsoft Office  – a spreadsheet program, a slides program similar to PowerPoint, and so on. They are simple to use, they work fine, they play well together, and they’re free.

I am not alone. Google “i hate microsoft word” and scroll through the results. This blog post and this tech article explain the logic behind my hatred of Word, while this Reddit user expresses how I feel much more viscerally. And there’s lots more.

Death to Word!

Seriously.

I do not understand why we, the consuming and writing and typing world, don’t look like this:

Torch-and-pitchfork-mob

This is undoubtedly the best copyright/licensing info I have ever seen, and I quote: “Licensed under absolutely nothing. Have a fucking field day. Abuse this for your own sick pleasures.”

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Author: Deborah Lee

I like trees, dreaming, magic, books, paper, floating, dreaming, rhinos, rocks, stargazing, wine, dragonflies, trains, and silence to hear the world breathe.

1 thought on “Death to Word”

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