New version of Word adds more junk — what about us writer types?

Published January 1, 2013

Microsoft launched the next version of Office today — Office 365. And… WTF?

My main interest, as a writer, is Word. So what’s new in Word?

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Videos? VIDEOS? Holy moly, Microsoft, why the hell do I want video support in a word processor? And then I looked at the whole thing. Once again, Microsoft has jammed as many features into Word in a desperate attempt to make it a desktop publishing package. If you want a word processor, tough.

Once upon a time, Word was for writing. Sure, you could embed other stuff in a document, but it was mostly about putting text on paper in a clean, readable way. But then — especially with Office 2007 and that awful Ribbon — it became all about formatting and adding graphics and sideways text and other crap.

If the Word toolbar is your guide, you would think that changing fonts and styles was the most important thing people do. And now there’s video frakking support?

Oh, it’s not like there are decent alternatives. All these companies seem to think that they make a word processor better by adding more and more crap to it. Check out the company-supplied screenshot for the latest version of Kingsoft Writer:

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Note that well less than half the space is taken up by the actual writing. Most of it is toolbars for formatting, adding formulas, adding graphics, and other crap that has nothing to do with writing. Hell’s bells, I’m surprised there’s any space for the actual text.

Sure, there are “writer’s” tools out there, but they’re on the other end of the spectrum — they’re slightly-more-powerful plain-text editors, like WriteMonkey or Notepad++.

Hey, geniuses, how about a word processor that focuses on the basics: headings and subheds, italics and bold, and basic formatting. Sure, let me insert an image or chart, but if I wanted a full-fledged desktop publisher I’m gonna use InDesign.

Please, someone, give me a clean word processor that focuses on the basics. I know that everyone has a different idea of what those basics are, so there will be some functions I don’t need. But still — give me an alternative that’s more powerful than a text editor (I’m thinking WYSIWYG) but not as bloated as what Word has become.



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