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Wanted: Article why MS-Office took world by storm

Can anyone help me find an article that details WHY MS-Office blew the doors open on the office productivity market?  Why all others failed, etc?  Might be related to all the WordPerfect/Novell bungles.  the never-before-seen interoperability , etc.

Bella
Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Close...and from the horses mouth

http://blogs.msdn.com/chris_pratley/archive/2004/04/27/120944.aspx

Code Monkey
Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Office 2000 did well because Office97 did well. Office 97 did well because Office 95 did well.

Office 95 did well because.... you get the picture.

Mr. Analogy
Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Bella,

long time no see:-) , check out Eric Sink's blog - he had some intersting things to say. he also linked to a some articles regd this.

Prakash S
Tuesday, May 11, 2004

That's actually an article about how Word (supposedly) took the world by storm, and I find it laughable.  Word took the world by storm simply because it was bundled with things like Excel and Access.

"Arcane command sequences" as a WordPerfect failing, as if it wasn't how every program worked at the time.  And the assertion that WordPerfect 5.1 is unstable; in fact, my mom still, to this day, uses WP 5.1 to produce documents for the preschool she works at, meeting minutes and such.

The fact that the article starts off with stuff about anti-Microsoft conspiracies is rather telling.  I guess if I dispute his account, I become part of the conspiracies.  *roll eyes*

(On the other hand, if I were project manager for a product like Word, I guess I'd be that defensive too.)

Kyralessa
Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Chris Pratley's blog descibes it exactly how I remember it.

Wordperfect was the gold standard of DOS word processors in the late 1980s; it was recommended to me as the only one to consider. 

I remember getting a mail offer for Wordperfect for Windows back in the early 90s (I owned WP 5.1) which stated that WP's internal position was that Windows was basically not worth developing a port for but they were grudgingly accommodating "some" users by releasing it.

I wish I had kept the mail piece.  It was the most schizophrenic thing I have ever seen in a marketing piece from any company, ever. My opinion of WP as a company sank considerably when I read it.

I think I rememember buying WP for Windows in mid 1993. I recall taking it back to Egghead Software and getting a refund because it was glacially slow and irritating to use.

The only serious functional (and perhaps market) competition that MS Word ever had, once it had gathered some momentum, was Lotus Ami Pro. Ami Pro was an exceptionally good word processing program, and it ran crisply on very underpowered systems. I grudgingly moved away from it to Winword as it became apparent that the world was MSWord centric.

Bored Bystander
Tuesday, May 11, 2004

I remember back in that period all the law firms and banks, and generally people who considered themselves superior, used Word Perfect.

As a contractor and early Windows developer, I used to use Word.

The law firms hung on until it was beyond dispute they were stupid.


Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Actually, they hung on because WP could do the complex formatting they needed for legal documents, while Word couldn't (and probably still can't).

Kyralessa
Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Actually, they hung on for two reasons:
1) Reveal codes
2) Document comparison

(1) has been somewhat addressed, but still needs a little user training to get the rest of the way (instead of using individual format codes, use styles, like CSS)

(2) has been fixed.

BTW, last time I checked, WP format was a proprietary format, while Word can save to WordML, which is an open format. (I know it's not the default, but it's there)

Philo

Philo
Tuesday, May 11, 2004

I used to find them having lots of trouble with formatting. I could do the equivalent in Word easily, which is why I described them as stupid.

Showing codes used to cause enormous problems, because secretaries ( these guys and gals would never stoop to actually "typing" themselves) would do spaghetti-code starting and stopping formats.

I'm not certain, but I though comparing documents was possible in Word from early days?


Tuesday, May 11, 2004

It was, but it wasn't the greatest. One huge hit was that until Word XP, if there was a change in a footnote, it highlighted the entire footnote. Since legal footnotes can range from a few paragraphs to several pages, this was Not Good.

The Word team has really been burning up the code since then to make document comparison what users need it to be. They're doing a really good job, too.

Philo

Philo
Tuesday, May 11, 2004

"BTW, last time I checked, WP format was a proprietary format, while Word can save to WordML, which is an open format..."

In what version of Word?  2003?  The only XML-related stuff I find in the Word 2002 help is something to do with Smart Tags.

"Actually, they hung on for two reasons:
1) Reveal codes...

(1) has been somewhat addressed, but still needs a little user training to get the rest of the way (instead of using individual format codes, use styles, like CSS)"

The trouble is that the conceptual model is completely different; in Word paragraphs are like objects, each with its own formatting, while in WordPerfect formatting codes are interspersed within the flow of the text and can work either as "begin" and "end" or as "from this point forward."  Going from one to the other isn't a minor change.

Kyralessa
Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Top 3 reasons were:

Monopoly
Monopolistic Practices
and lastly, Monopoly.

Mike
Tuesday, May 11, 2004

+++Monopoly
Monopolistic Practices
and lastly, Monopoly. +++

Wrong, wrong and wrong.

If you want to know what happened, read "In Search of Stupidity: Over 20 Years of High-Tech Marketing Disasters."  I discuss what happened at MicroPro, WordPerfect, and the origin of the MS Office bundle, which, BTW, was something of an accident.

And I was there for a lot of it, so I speak from personal knowledge.

rick

Rick Chapman
Tuesday, May 11, 2004

"The trouble is that the conceptual model is completely different"

Agreed. It's just like HTML vs. CSS, and all the arguments for CSS apply here as well - create a standard template for the document type (for example, a different template appropriate for each court the attorney submits to), and apply the styles as you go.  Need to change the format of the section headings? One change and you're done.

Philo

Philo
Tuesday, May 11, 2004

The one change and you're done model works when you have the organisation to create all the style sheets and the wherewithal to maintain them and train all the users into using them.

Individuals though think in terms of:

I'm typing this very boring document, I didn't write it, oh what am I doing now?; its a heading so I'll make it Bold and Underline it, oh and this partner likes headings to be in 12pt; I hit an extra carriage return here;now I'm typing the paragraph which needs an indent at the beginning;(what's happened to my tabs where's my indent gone, umm ok I'll fix it by dragging this thing to there, ok that looks right);back to typing the text (why does it think this word is wrong 'organise' is right, stupid computer);ok ignore all these spelling things its obviously stupid;carrying on typing to the end of the document...


And so on.  The idea that style sheets are a good thing belongs in the heads of people who've never had to do production typing which is by far the most common use of a word processor in places where Word Perfect ruled.  If you ask actual users who are in this kind of job, and who used WP for DOS in the past, you'll find out they'd still rather use that than the generally hated Word.

But no one listens to such people.

Since the demise of WP for DOS I think I can fairly say that the quality of such documents and letters is now far worse than it was and that even then they were worse than the original type it on a typewriter letters (ignoring the iron age fonts).  But the reason for that is that 100% was the accepted quality standard for produced work, now we use computers we are seduced by the apparent quality of the output into thinking the content is correct, when all too often it is not.

Simon Lucy
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Simon Lucy,

http://weblogs.asp.net/oldnewthing/archive/2004/04/02/106369.aspx

The above is on dictionaries and spelling checkers. Read my posts. I go by the handle "A regular viewer". Styles is way too inconvenient for the use cases you portray. I agree.

KayJay
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Simon, you lost me.

First you comment on how difficult Word is to use, but your final paragraph comments on the ascension of form over content, which I read to say that since it's so easy to create a perfect-looking document, people aren't as critical about what it says.

You quite literally end up condemning Word for making formatting documents too easy, which is contrary to the rest of your post.

Philo

Philo
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Actually, it wasn't Word per se that I said caused it but computerisation itself. 

I don't see any contradictions, the surface quality of the output, fonts, laser/ink jet and so on really has nothing to do with how appropriate the method is of creating the content.

I don't notice you disagreeing with me :-).

Simon Lucy
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Here is the main reason: you could upgrade from basically anthing (WP,123,amipro,quatro, etc.) to Microsoft Office for $99 back in 93,94  time range.
It was to cheap not to do and was the only reason the company I worked for then stopped upgrading from WP & 123 and purchased Office for every PC.

hjm
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

I switched from WP to Word when I tried to upgrade to WP for Windows and it did a crappy job on my existing documents. Word for Windows did a great job, so I started using it and never looked back. I still have a few old WP documents around and they open in Word with no problems.

MilesArcher
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

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