An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2008-01-06 04:53
Subject: [process] Word processing
Security: Public
Location:Nuevo Rancho Lake
Mood:awake far too early
Music:not much
Tags:personal, poll, process, writing
The New York Times on alternatives to Microsoft Word.

You know, I don't find Word all that offensive. I've been using it regularly since the mid 1980s (Multiplan, anyone?), and using it as my sole word processor since Apple gave up on MacWrite. I'm heavily embedded in Word, quirks and all.

Every now and then I think about switching. I know people use other programs. But Word is standard at the Day Job, which means even if I go to Scrivener or some other tool for fiction, I'll still be using Word dozens of hours per week. And I feel too damned busy to spend a bunch of time relearning the habits of twenty years.

Am I being a dinosaur? Is it worth the trouble?

Poll #1116480 Word Processor Preference

What word processor do you use?

Microsoft Word (Windows)
Microsoft Word (OS X)
Open Office/Star Office
Google Docs
Something else I'll explain in comments


Microsoft is a worldwide standard
Microsoft is (still) an evil empire
My choice is most productive for me
Technical/processor efficiency
Superior feature set
Something else I'll explain in comments
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User: mssrcrankypants
Date: 2008-01-06 13:03 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Another consideration, left out of the above, is the economic. MSWord comes bundled already with both the laptops I use (home PC and work-issued Macbook). I don't have to buy another program or spend time downloading, learning, converting, or anything else. There's also the inertia component, of which I'm guilty, I admit.

In terms of feature set and minimal file-size bloat, I've long been a fan of WordPerfect. Unfortunately, that's not a really practical choice when it comes to file-sharing and the like.
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Kerry aka Trouble: marbles
User: controuble
Date: 2008-01-06 13:05 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Don't suppose this one's going to let me vote for 2, is it... Never mind - it did.
I use Framemaker for documents and vi for code because work is a Unix environment. They are starting to switch us over to Word for docs and I do not find Word nearly as intuitive to use as Framemaker - also it makes funny noises when I hit the escape key if I forget I'm in Word instead of vi.

Edited at 2008-01-06 01:06 pm (UTC)
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Edward Greaves
User: temporus
Date: 2008-01-06 13:06 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I use MS Word, because that's what I've got. It's the standard at work, and it came with the home PC. So there's just no incentive (at this time) to change.
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User: the_gwenzilliad
Date: 2008-01-06 13:10 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I use MSWord because I have to at boring day not writing work, and because it seems to be the industry standard for people who write. I prefer OpenOffice/NeoOffice on my Mac, but as it doesn't support Word's commenting features, I have to have an old copy of Word there as well. Big waste of space.

Scrivener is *much* more than just a word processor. I use it for all my writing work.
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User: renatus
Date: 2008-01-06 13:15 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
OpenOffice is free and open source, while Word would set me back a hunge chunk of money I don't even have. I don't dislike Word, it's generally very functional, but I'm not tied to it.

I wouldn't want to use Google Docs as my only word processor, but it's dead useful for collaborating with someone halfway across the world from me, as I'm doing.
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Wendy S. Delmater
User: safewrite
Date: 2008-01-06 13:17 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I bought a new PC rather than the Mac I'd planned on because (stupid reason, I know) Best Buy is where I got my emergency replacement computer and they do not carry Macs. I thought, how bad can Windows Vista be?

It's bad. I've used MS-Word for Mac (OS 10 and OSX) and Word in Windows XP. No problems to speak of. Despite plonking $1400 into a new PC, I may just get a Mac anyhow and use this as a back up.

It's not so much a problem with Word as it is with Windows Vista.
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User: icedrake
Date: 2008-01-06 17:12 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You may find this amusing, then. (or at least find solace in the knowledge that you're far from alone)
This is a review written by someone upgrading from Vista. To XP.
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it's a great life, if you don't weaken: writing headbang
User: matociquala
Date: 2008-01-06 13:17 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:writing headbang
Google Docs tends to fuck up formatting massively, and it only allows you about a third of a 100K novel in a single document. No good. (I have used it for collaborations, however, but the formatting issues--ehn.)

I use word because I know the keyboard shortcuts, I love the comment feature, and because I can get it just about anywhere. And because unlike Word Perfect, it's never COMPLETELY EATEN an entire novel file on me. (Which WP did twice. Fortunately, I am obsessive backup lass.)

I save my documents in .rtf, however. And I use an older version of Word with less crap in it. (Just upgraded to 2000, actually, and am regretting it. It does some nice things, but the HTML-export feature has become nightmarish.)

Edited at 2008-01-06 01:19 pm (UTC)
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User: autopope
Date: 2008-01-06 13:34 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I have three obsessions:

1. File format openness

2. Cross-platform portability

3. Freedom

Microsoft are the Great Satan as far as file format openness goes; they rely on regular changes in file formats to force their user base to upgrade in order to remain compatible. Not Good, because their idea of a document's lifetime is 2-5 years, not the 30-50 years that I think is more like it for a jobbing novelist.

OpenOffice (or Neooffice on OS/X) is about as close to open as we're reasonably going to get in a heavyweight integrated office package that's still also able to talk to the Great Satan. It's available on Linux, Windows, OS/X, and some minority platforms, and there's a pure java derivative on the way -- I can synchronize my work file tree between Windows and Linux boxes using rsync, and with a bit of tweaking, on the Mac with NeoOffice too. The file format, OpenDoc, is genuinely open (unlike OOXML from Microsoft). It does as good a job of importing and exporting MS Office documents as anything else out there that I've run across. Finally, it's free.

(I used to use a homebrew toolchain of perl modules, vim, rcs, and makefiles that allowed me to edit ASCII text in POD macro markup and generate RTF or HTML or PDF output, but that fell by the wayside when Marty Halpern at Golden Gryphon insisted on using Word and change tracking to copy-edit a couple of novels. On the other hand, change tracking worked fine for our purposes between OOo and Office. And I'm thinking of going back to my old toolchain once I can get everything running happily on my Nokia N810 web tablet -- as I know it'll work fine on OS/X and Linux, I don't care about Windows, and it's happy on the Eee.)
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gvdub: style
User: gvdub
Date: 2008-01-06 13:39 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I've been using Scrivener for the organizational tools (outliner, cork board, convenient notes fields, etc.) and the fact that when I'm writing, it just gets out of my way.
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
Elf M. Sternberg
User: elfs
Date: 2008-01-06 22:37 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I loved WordStar! My favorite word processor of all time had be Scribble!, though, for the Amiga.
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User: beth_bernobich
Date: 2008-01-06 13:45 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:mad scribe
I use Word and save my documents as RTF files. Manuscript documents aren't all that demanding, and the comment feature is handy.

Now, if you asked me about desktop publishing or technical documents with lots of graphics, my answer would be a cry of "No, no, nay, a thousand times no. I will not use Word for them."
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Phil Smith
User: dungeoneer
Date: 2008-01-06 13:47 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
For most conventional word-processing I tend to use OpenOffice.org, for reasons already stated by other commenters.

As far as my own pet projects go, the sort where pre-formatted content will almost certainly never end up in the hands of publishers, I prefer plain text and LaTeX. Basically I got fed up with the word processor getting its own fancy ideas about how to format something, whether that be tabs, headings, lists, etc. At least with LaTeX there's a certain hierarchy in place: chapter headings, section headings, subsection headings: all are nice and clear just from looking at the code. Plus that allows me to concentrate on the content and structure first and then worry about how to make it look pretty.
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User: neutronjockey
Date: 2008-01-06 14:03 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
All hail OpenOffice!
I'd lost my MS Office Suite stuff for XP somewhere in my move from HI to OK... I refuseled to pay MS again for another copy of the pro suite so I downloaded OO and have happy-happy ever since.
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Patron Saint of Pessimism: Action Card Lab Gremlin
User: woodrunner
Date: 2008-01-06 14:03 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Action Card Lab Gremlin
To my chagrin, my workplace uses Microsoft Office as a base for most software. It's fine for most of the uses that I have for it, though I think it's vastly unsuited for lab work.

Access gets far too bloated far too quickly; Excel is limited on scientific charting functions (multivariate applications, anyone? How about three dimensional charting that does what you want it to do?); Word is fine for business writing, but try putting together reports with embedded data, graphics and charts without fighting over how they're inserted, never mind the mess of formatting that happens afterward. Outlook/Entourage likes to hog the computer's memory, and it can be a pain to load. Don't get me started on Publisher. Probably the only thing that's redeeming is Powerpoint, and that's only because I haven't looked for anything else.

But it's all we've got, and we have to use it. Unfortunately, the users don't get any say in the products they use.

At home, I went from the black-screen-green-script program way back in the day to early versions of WordPerfect, then to Microsoft Word, because that's what was available on the PC, and after arguing with Works one too many times, I figured Word was the lesser of two evils.

At least until I jumped ships to a Mac, at least at home. Microsoft Word found its way onto my Mac but that was a fluke of circumstance, and I have kept it and keep using it to facilitate the sending of documents to others for whatever reason (including reviewing)...

But the first chance I get, I load Scrivener, which is where I do my writing now. It fills in a lot of holes where other word processors weren't up to the job, including satisfying how my brain works where it comes to writing.

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Kristine Smith
User: kristine_smith
Date: 2008-01-06 14:17 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
MS Word is the standard at my day job. I used it when I had the PC, then switched to MacWord when I switched to Macs. I have no issues opening MacWord docs on a PC or vice versa. Word is quirky, but it's the devil I know.

I thought about using Scrivener's wp function, but couldn't figure it out intuitively. Maybe I didn't give it enough of a chance, but when I upgraded Scrivener recently, I found I couldn't open corkboards that I had set up in the older version, so I'm kinda glad I didn't use it for the wip.

I'm just not that much of a techie, I guess. Word is good enough.
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User: eclectic_writer
Date: 2008-01-06 14:18 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I honestly used to use Notepad for writing because I got tired of being told whenever I wrote something down wrong, or having the grammar police underline things for me. I do it now only because my CPs like the formatting you can do in Word. Nothing against Word personally, but I'd just liked the freedom (which is in itself debateable) of Notepad's featurelessness.
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