7(2), April 1990, pages 77-78

Software Review

C. J. Wallia

Since 1981, when the IBM PC first became available, I have used several word-processing programs. As recommended by IBM, I started with EASYWRITER. Easy it was not. I switched to WORDSTAR and VOLKSWRITER, both of which I used for many months until 1983, when I became a beta tester for the original version of MICROSOFT WORD. For the last six years, I have regularly used WORD, interrupted only by brief flirtations with XYWRITE and WORDPERFECT. The current choice of WORD 5 0 as the top-rated word-processing program by the independent National Software Testing Laboratories' publication Software Digest and by the widely-read Personal Computing magazine supports my early selection of WORD.

Although the first version of WORD offered impressive formatting capabilities, it was rather slow. For several years, WORD trailed behind WORDPERFECT, the leader in the performance evaluations of many computer software reviewers. Despite my agreement with those evaluation, I stayed with WORD, largely because I had become familiar with its quirks and was unwilling to take time off my projects to learn in addition the many quirks of WORDPERFECT. Could this also be the real reason why many users defend their particular word-processing program with the zeal of religious fanatics--because switching takes time and trouble, they would fight rather than switch?

In its April 1989 Software Digest, the National Software Testing Lab evaluates the latest WORD as best overall in terms of ease of learning, ease of use, error handling, performance, and versatility.

The latest WORD is also the top performer in the speed tests reported in Personal Computing magazine (August, 1989, pp. 113-116). The speed test used is a composite of time taken to load program/file, go to end of file, move paragraph, search and replace, save file and go to DOS, scroll down, and cursor across. On a scale of one to ten for speed of performance, WORD 5.0 scores 8.0, PC WRITE 7.7, MULTIMATE ADVANTAGE II 7.6, and WORDPERFECT 5.0 is fourth with a score of 6.2.

The highest overall rating accorded to WORD by Personal Computing is based on composite scores on performance as noted above, practicality (user support, documentation, ease of learning, ease of use, and price), and features (user interface, text formatting, blocking, search and replace, special features, desktop publishing features, and import/ export features).

Version 2.0 added an on-line tutorial, integrated spelling checker, hyphenation, and EGA support. Version 3.0 offered integrating outline processing, a thesaurus, index and table of contents generation, multiple glossary file, and sorting. Version 4.0 presented macros, document retrieval facilities, revision marks, and line drawing as well as boxes around paragraphs.

Among several new features of WORD 5.0 are inserting annotations, saving automatically at a specified time internal, repaginating continuously, viewing and editing multiple columns on the screen, importing graphics, placing text and graphics anywhere on the page, and previewing documents on screen to see their appearance before printing. With these features, WORD has become a rudimentary desktop-publishing program adequate for several types of business publications. As a word-processing program, WORD 5.0 shines.

WORD 5.0; $450.00; system requirements: IBM PC of compatible with 384K RAM, two floppy disk drives, and graphics adapter.

UL> Microsoft Corporation
16011 N. E. 36th Street
Redmond, WA 98073