No kind words for Microsoft Word

Microsoft WordWell clearly, it is not free software, runs on only one operating system (and not a very good one, at that) and its maker has a long history of sabotaging every aspect of interoperability. However, I have been forced to use it by rules beyond my control and the impression I got is not very flattering. These are some of my observations, in roughly chronological (i.e. useless) order:

  • it scales pasted images from other applications so that it can’t be scaled to the original size and ratio
  • inconsistencies between pop-up and main menus, e.g. no “insert row” in a table context menu, but it is present in the main menu
  • it hangs several times a day
  • it promotes sloppy style management: “you do what you like with the text and I’ll see what I can make of it”-approach
    • regularly mixes “Body Text” and “Normal” styles making documents look bad and requiring subsequent clean-up
  • the dynamic main menu: searching for less used features takes more than its share of time, menu items can no longer be expected to be where they “usually” are
  • there is no way to update all fields without selecting the entire document contents first and even then it asks questions
    • by the way, this does not update header fields
    • references break en masse: “error: reference source not found”
  • incompatibilities between versions: 2007 opens an .doc as almost empty where 2003 opens it more or less correctly
  • the document navigator leaves a lot to be desired (has to be closed during e.g. text search/replace etc.)
  • rendering errors are not rare, e.g. text ends up under the page header
  • clicking in blank space moves the text cursor there, even though text can’t be entered there
  • a selected part of comment text cannot be erased
  • entering cross-references triggers incorrect view positioning
  • deleted images repeatedly reappear
  • it “thinks” it’s smart when it keeps trying to guess (by default!) which part of the text you want to select
  • a pasted copy of a numbered header doesn’t look the same way the orig. header does
  • search does not check field content like chapter numbers
  • 2003 Document Map broken in 2007
    • to add injury to insult, you cannot work around the problem by searching for chapter numbers (see above)
  • HTML copy-paste loses colours
  • copy-paste a cell from Excel, undo: boom!
  • no “search in selection” capability
  • button clicks in popup dialogs often don’t react (virtual machine problem?)
  • freezes when navigating to a page while it paginates after the document was opened
  • it is the only application ever to use the ribbon interface and is claimed to be “familiar” to its users
  • no PDF export support
  • doesn’t remember correctly which part of the document I was looking at when toggling hidden characters on and off
  • unusable numbered lists:
    • applied Heading 1 style to a list I tried to start: I don’t even know where to start looking for an explanation
    • when creating multiple numbered list in a document:
      • increases indent for some of the lists without obvious reason
      • resets or continues the list counter without obvious reason
  • when selecting e.g. a header, does not automatically show the applied style in the styles and formatting view

Suddenly the competition, although not very good, looks much better.


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