Just for fun: "Why Microsoft Word must Die"

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Wock
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Thu Oct 17, 2013 3:47 pm Post

Actually Scrivener is funded by an alternative revenue stream.


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marcoiac
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Thu Oct 17, 2013 8:18 pm Post

Wock wrote:Actually Scrivener is funded by an alternative revenue stream.


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I knew it!!!!!

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nom
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Fri Oct 18, 2013 10:45 am Post

Is that a bottle of Jamesons on the shelf above that Guinness?
At least that would solve the mystery that is vic-k. :roll:
Complete and utter NOMsense.
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Fluff
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Fri Oct 18, 2013 12:24 pm Post

nom wrote:At least that would solve the mystery that is vic-k.

Mystery?!! :shock: Mystery my tootie!! (if you'll forgive the rude word :oops: )

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Mon Nov 18, 2013 1:25 pm Post

sfosparky wrote:——————
My enjoyment of Scrivener is enhanced by the way that Scrivener constantly reminds me that it's not Microsoft Word. And I suspect that many of you who have used both Scrivener and Word understand very well what I mean.

For those who do, here's a fun read from author Charles Stross's blog titled Why Microsoft Word must Die.

http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-st ... t-die.html

Note, too, that Scrivener is mentioned near the end of the article…

Cheers & happy reading,
Riley
SFO


Someone call the wahmbulance.

I prefer Scrivener for my writing, but Microsoft Word suited me fine until my manuscript got really large. Scrivener is a niche tool for writers. I really love it and prefer it for that purpose, but for general stuff, Word is better. And you really can't compare the two. Besides, you don't have to deal with Word until you finished your work. Just export it and be done with it.

It always makes me laugh when people blame their own incompetence on the software. This sounds like an angry guy who's angry with Microsoft in general while being stuck in principles way past their expiration date. Let's be honest, no one really gives a shit what Steve Jobs and Bill Gates did in the 1980s and even less people even know what BASIC is or the Apple Lisa.

I really like the ribbon interface that was introduced in Office 2007. Sure, it took some getting used to, but once I got the hang of it, I got a lot faster at a lot of things. It was a nice upgrade from the old-fashioned menus and I never had any problems with it. And besides, real pros use keyboard shortcuts for the majority of actions.

Word has been a great friend for me through college, because it's an extremely complete package. It's the only word processor that makes it easy to insert beautiful tables, smart objects and images, and it has great tools to keep track of sources and adding a bibliography in the appropriate style. I recently installed Office 2013 (on Windows) and it's by far the most feature-rich word processor out there with great built-in cloud functionality.

If MS Office really sucked as bad as the author suggests here, people would abandon it, plain and simple. Look what happened with Windows Vista. Consumers and businesses avoided it like the plague. MS Office a great suite for 99% of users and Microsoft couldn't care less about the angry 1% that laments over the good old days and how unfair it all is.

Wake up and smell the coffee, pal. Microsoft Word ain't goin' nowhere.

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ptram
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Mon Nov 18, 2013 5:15 pm Post

nom wrote:Is that a bottle of Jamesons on the shelf above that Guinness?
At least that would solve the mystery that is vic-k. :roll:

Going further on, there is a bottle of Tanqueray. I guess the mistery is fading away, drop by drop.

Paolo
Last edited by ptram on Tue Nov 19, 2013 1:33 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Wock
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Mon Nov 18, 2013 9:15 pm Post

Bluesman wrote:
sfosparky wrote:——————
My enjoyment of Scrivener is enhanced by the way that Scrivener constantly reminds me that it's not Microsoft Word. And I suspect that many of you who have used both Scrivener and Word understand very well what I mean.

For those who do, here's a fun read from author Charles Stross's blog titled Why Microsoft Word must Die.

http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-st ... t-die.html

Note, too, that Scrivener is mentioned near the end of the article…

Cheers & happy reading,
Riley
SFO


Someone call the wahmbulance.

I prefer Scrivener for my writing, but Microsoft Word suited me fine until my manuscript got really large. Scrivener is a niche tool for writers. I really love it and prefer it for that purpose, but for general stuff, Word is better. And you really can't compare the two. Besides, you don't have to deal with Word until you finished your work. Just export it and be done with it.

It always makes me laugh when people blame their own incompetence on the software. This sounds like an angry guy who's angry with Microsoft in general while being stuck in principles way past their expiration date. Let's be honest, no one really gives a shit what Steve Jobs and Bill Gates did in the 1980s and even less people even know what BASIC is or the Apple Lisa.

I really like the ribbon interface that was introduced in Office 2007. Sure, it took some getting used to, but once I got the hang of it, I got a lot faster at a lot of things. It was a nice upgrade from the old-fashioned menus and I never had any problems with it. And besides, real pros use keyboard shortcuts for the majority of actions.

Word has been a great friend for me through college, because it's an extremely complete package. It's the only word processor that makes it easy to insert beautiful tables, smart objects and images, and it has great tools to keep track of sources and adding a bibliography in the appropriate style. I recently installed Office 2013 (on Windows) and it's by far the most feature-rich word processor out there with great built-in cloud functionality.

If MS Office really sucked as bad as the author suggests here, people would abandon it, plain and simple. Look what happened with Windows Vista. Consumers and businesses avoided it like the plague. MS Office a great suite for 99% of users and Microsoft couldn't care less about the angry 1% that laments over the good old days and how unfair it all is.

Wake up and smell the coffee, pal. Microsoft Word ain't goin' nowhere.


Well it still isn't on the iPad and iPad is one of the hottest markets outpacing many other devices in current and future sales. (many people are replacing aging PC's with iPads).

Also take into account things like Google Docs, Open Office, and PDF taking over many users who are tired of proprietary formats and restrictions and you see a decline in Word usage over all.

But hey awhile back VHS was all the rage and when the DVD came out people swore that 4 Head VCRs weren't going anywhere.

You can still buy a 4 head VCR in some stores, and even find somethings on tape. The main use for VCRs now a days is to have one watch old tapes. Then again during the transition phase many people sold those VCR to DVD devices which moved more to DVD and pretty much made the VCR obsolete.

Word is headed in the same direction. There is not one thing Word does better than anyone. It does many things "ok" but the only reason why it is still around is legacy usage and people who haven't "changed". We are in the transition phase where people want to share files, open them on many different devices, be more open standard in a lot of cases or to run slim and trim to save battery. Instead of 1,000 features you probably will never use - instead you might use an app that just specializes in that one thing "There is an app for that".

The mentality of the user has changed faster than Microsoft's business model. Gone are the days of locking files to one system or only sharing with others who also pay premium. Here are the days of startups and fast apps, sharing and instant gratification. Connected devices and open formats.

Now a days with apps in the $0 - $50 range why is someone going to pay hundreds for MS Office? They aren't because now with connected devices you no longer can justify the Premium price for Office for many users. Hence the decline in sales over the years.

With the internet and the "cloud" gone are the days of the Office requirement for compatibility. Here are the days of the "Connected Device User". Microsoft is way behind in that market and will have to make big changes to their business model or they will continue to suffer attrition and eventually will fade away from the consumer market to dwell in the corporate market of servers and services..

Nothing lasts forever. To think otherwise is futile.
The wheel is turning but the hamster is still dead.

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charlie.stross
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Mon Nov 18, 2013 9:37 pm Post

Bluesman wrote:
sfosparky wrote:——————
It always makes me laugh when people blame their own incompetence on the software.


Are you calling me incompetent?

I write books for a living. I've written (and sold) books using Microsoft Word. My hatred of that product is informed by hardcore experience; I've been using one variety or another of word processor and text editor for close to 30 years; I've been using MS Word itself on and off since 1991: I used to work as a programmer: I have a computer science degree: and I still don't like Word.

And just to bring the discussion full-circle, here's why I still use Word (despite everything) ...

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Mon Nov 18, 2013 10:37 pm Post

Oh-ho! Now you've gone and stepped in it, b-man! Perhaps blanket insults aren't the best way to go, especially here, where we try to keep our debates civil-like. We even succeed for the most part.

I for one am more persuaded by Charlie's arguments than by yours, though your tone does make it hard to judge your words with anything approaching dispassion.
Often wrong, rarely in doubt.
Time for a change... I'm now rdale; same dog-avatar, same dog... channel?

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sfosparky
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Mon Nov 18, 2013 11:53 pm Post

------
As a thought experiment, imagine that the world has for several years been essentially happy using some non-Word program.

One day you're handed the BETA version of a brand new word processing program called Word and asked to evaluate its readiness for release. To get things started, the BETA team asks to you to evaluate the new program's:

  • Ease of use
  • Quality of documentation
  • Reliability
After a couple of weeks or so of working with the BETA, you're asked to report your findings.

The first question is, do you recommend that Word be released? Or will you report that the BETA team has more work to do?

And based on what you've seen, do you believe you'll want to switch to Word or continue using the existing word processing standard?

Cheers & have fun,
Riley
SFO

P.S. I've been working with computers since 1981. I also have a reputation among co-workers as a highly effective user of a wide variety of software tools. Including Word. Despite this I've never enjoyed working with Word and would be perfectly happy If I never had to bother with it again…

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charlie.stross
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Tue Nov 19, 2013 12:16 pm Post

sfosparky wrote:------
  • Ease of use
  • Quality of documentation
  • Reliability
After a couple of weeks or so of working with the BETA, you're asked to report your findings.

The first question is, do you recommend that Word be released? Or will you report that the BETA team has more work to do?


Wrong questions. Or rather, they imply a context, but don't make it explicit. I'd rephrase:

  • Will the users of (current market leader) find it easier to use?
  • Does the user interface make it easy to discover functionality?
  • What is the value proposition for existing users of (current market leader)? Why should they go to the effort of switching?

(The implied context is the state of the existing market. What any developer with a new product is looking for is either a non-existent market -- Scrivener basically built its own market for Scrivener-like tools -- or a program with the capacity to disrupt an existing market, as Apple did when they released the iPhone into an already-saturated smartphone market.)

As to the answers:

Word is very easy to use for simple tasks. It's rather difficult to use for complex tasks. The range of tasks it can be used for is sprawling and covers some really arcane areas, but the expertise needed to make best use of it is so esoteric that corporate IT departments have to employ Word specialists.

Let's remember that the average user of word processors has little or no IT training. Some studies showed that around 80% of users of MS Office on Windows didn't know about the Ctrl-C, Ctrl-X, Ctrl-V shortcuts for cut and paste, or Ctrl-F for searching; around 50% didn't even know that cut and paste was possible, and were using Word as a glass typewriter.

Exposing functionality buried deep in the menu hierarchy via the ribbon seems like a good idea to the technically literate who want to make things easier for the illiterate. Unfortunately they overestimate the literacy of the illiterate; we train users to ignore user interface clutter such as greyed-out menu items or window decorations, so they also tend to ignore the ribbon (it looks like more incomprehensible clutter) or find it a thing of terror (full of scary stuff they don't understand).

Word has some bad habits. One is autocorrect and autoformat. Again, this is the sort of "hlepful" behaviour that techies think will assist novice users. Rather, it results in Word making random, arbitrary, and sometimes counter-productive changes to the novice user's, impeding their ability to learn a consistent set of actions for achieving their goals. When stuff sometimes happens "by magic" we can't learn to associate cause with effect.

Another bad habit is modal dialogs, but that's not unique to Word: that's a general problem afflicting GUIs that should have been fixed in the early 80s before Xerox let them out of the lab. And then there is the horrible collision between direct formatting and hierarchical styles -- two different paradigms for document layout control that simply don't work together. Yes, experts can cope, but most people aren't experts.

Then there are files. Don't get me started on files. Suffice to say, after two decades of trying, I [i]still[/] haven't managed to get my mother to understand the relationship between a file, a document, and a window on the screen of her iMac. Or my brother-in-law. Or my sister.

So, no: I don't think Word is easy to use. We fool ourselves into thinking it's easy to use because compared to Word Perfect 5.1 it's got lots of nice graphical bits and it shows you an approximation of what it thinks the final document will look like ... but it's not, really. Stick Pages for iOS in front of a 4 year old, or an 80 year old, and get them to write a letter. Then replace it with a PC laptop with Word. That's where we should be going -- cloud storage, no "save" dialog, an uncluttered UI that only shows the user the tools when they want to see them. I'd love to see Pages with a macro language for the power users (see also Editorial on iOS). That'd rock.

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vic-k
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Tue Nov 19, 2013 12:48 pm Post

charlie.stross wrote:Wrong questions. Or rather, they imply a context, but don't make it explicit. I'd rephrase:

Will the users of (current market leader) find …
... with a macro language for the power users (see also Editorial on iOS). That'd rock.


One of the most commonsensical, relevant/pertinent, informative, persuasive, arguments, for-or-against xyz, we've encountered on Scriv's lower decks, or above. Ever!!

A pleasure to read, easy to understand, and enjoyable to boot!
TA, Charlie mate…ta
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Tue Nov 19, 2013 2:12 pm Post

As an avid "disliker of everything" all these computer applications suffer the same flaws as the educational system: there is an expectation of uniformity in the end user cognitive process. The fact is that no program does it right for all users. There will be some that love said program and there will be others that believe only Satan and his hoard of demons would have created the evil they find before them.

So here's the deal...

People are allowed to like Word. Or Pages. Or Nissus. Or Mellel.
AND
People are allowed to HATE Word. Or Pages. Or Nissus. Or Mellel.

Personally I feel that the only reason Lucifer was thrown from the heavens was his involvement and influence in the development of Microsoft applications. But once he was freed to roam the earth seeking who he could devour he sunk his teeth into Apple. Then the Linux community was next on his agenda (but they have their loins girded with OSS standards if you believe their doctrine).

So let's just cut the hostility to a rational discussion level and admit that PREFERENCE IS OPINION WHICH IS NOT FACT. Leave Ioa and me to plain text in vi and keep your fancy UI to yourself.

That said the best UI and formatting app ever was developed recently. I saw an employee using it in a meeting recently. He said it was called "pen and paper". Very slick.
Jaysen

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Tue Nov 19, 2013 3:28 pm Post

charlie.stross wrote:
Let's remember that the average user of word processors has little or no IT training. Some studies showed that around 80% of users of MS Office on Windows didn't know about the Ctrl-C, Ctrl-X, Ctrl-V shortcuts for cut and paste, or Ctrl-F for searching;


All too true. I taught my wife a couple keyboard shortcuts - she's now the office guru. Image

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Wock
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Tue Nov 19, 2013 3:30 pm Post

My toolbox is varied but things I use in place of Word.

For a writing tool I prefer Scrivener. It is slim, trim and geared toward writing. The tools are writing tools. Everything involved is about writing. Focused software for a focused job. The nice thing is the flexibility in exporting after I am done to whatever output I may need.

Now for HTML editing/writing I use 2 tools
BBEdit and Dreamweaver. Dreamweaver is the best in the industry at Rapid web development and its tools are designed for that. BBEdit is really nice for viewing and editing code. That is what its main focus is.

For layout design I use Adobe Indesign. Nothing beats Indesign in layout (Yeah some may argue Quark but imo Indesign is ahead). Indesign is designed for layout so the control and the features are light years ahead of anything else. The good news is yes I can do Data merge layouts, import text from SCR exported text and reformat for layout. Since it is a printing standard, I save a lot of money if I send it to a professional printout or ad firm since it is truly camera ready. If I use word for most of that I get charged extra on the backside because of all the extra work and conversion that has to take place.

Of course toss in Photoshop and Illustrator (part of my CC subscription) and my creative boundaries are limitless. So I pay a premium price for Creative Cloud and get industry standard tools of the highest quality, toss in SCR and BBedit and I am only confined by my own imagination and my investment is spent on tools that are a lot more powerful than word.

Word does many things ok but does nothing well. I cannot think of a single feature that word leads the pack in at all. MIcrosoft messed up imo because they tried make Word the swiss army knife and wound up making the kitchen junk drawer.

They made the Corel mistake.

Corel was one of two companies that made design software back in the 90's. The design was broken down into 3 categories. Photo editing, Vector Editing, and layout. a 4th was added later on which was HTML.

Now Corel had the PC market cornered just like Microsoft Office. On any PC that was doing any creative design you would see Corel. The market was saturated. Their competitor started on the Mac and eventually made it on the PC but their main market was the Mac.

Corel had the idea that they would do everything inside one program. The program would be the swiss army knife. They called it Corel Draw. And in Corel Draw you could edit photo, vector, html and do layout. A clunky interface crammed full and overflowing with tons of features.

Their competitor did it the opposite way. They designed a program for each feature. Each program specialized in that one thing. TO some the argument was well you had to open one program to edit a photo, save it, then open another program to lay it out, etc. The people at corel thought this was crazy. The users did not though.

It made it where if you needed photo features you specialized in the photo program. If layout was your thing you specialized in the layout tool. (Later came video and sound and a ton more).

ANyway, Corel lost market share fast because this other company did 2 important things.

(1) They made the GUI in all their software look and act almost exactly the same. So if you were in the photo prgram and went to the Vector program it felt familiar. You didn't have to learn a whole new interface, you just had to learn where a few niche features were.

(2) They made a PC version the same as the Mac Version in all aspects and released them at the same time. Cross platform files that opened on either platform seamlessly. Avoiding the pitfalls like Microsoft did when Office 2010 came out for PC and Office 2011 came out for mac. Different looks, features and incompatibilities etc.

In doing this they took the PC market by storm. Corel Draw went from being the Pinnacle software on the PC side in their Niche to being a fleeting memory in that niche. Like the record player when the CD came out. People at first hung on to Corel because of course their old files and workflow was based on Corel (like word). People swore that Corel even though was clunky and cumbersome to use it was "good enough". While the market went with the their competitor because even though it was more expensive up front to switch, the overall improvement in the workflow justified the change.

Now that competitor is a house hold name. The small company that started on Mac and beat the leviathan Corel in their own market bringing down the giant.

That underdog little company that beat Corel was called Adobe Software.

Their software that beat them was Photoshop, Illustrator, Page Maker->Indesign
Which later became Creative Suite.

The lesson learned by many in that Rise and fall was simple.

You can approach software design in one of 2 ways.

(1) Is to keep adding features to one piece of software hoping that you invent the swiss army knife of tools. The downside of this is you can quickly become bloatware and things like performance and feature specialty gets muted.

(2) Streamline your software to limited function but excel in that functionality. It may do one thing but it does that one thing very fast and very well. The draw back of this path is some users may not be attracted to your software, it may feel more niche than all around use. Makes it harder to gain market share and gain overall users.


Where Adobe won was simple. They would add features related to that main function. That main function was tied to a program. You could get other programs that offer other features individually or you could get all of the software in a discounted "bundle" (This later became Creative Suite). A lot of people do this. The key feature of succes for Adobe was the extensive amount of time they spent on 2 aspects of their software.

(1) The GUI was extensively refined in each program so that the user would feel comfortable opening any of the software. Open Illustrator then open Photoshop. They look and feel almost the same. Many of the main functions are in the same places in the menus with the same keyboard shortcuts.

(2) From Mac to PC the GUI and features are almost identical. The files are cross platform compatible. The user experience is platform agnostic. So a user can go from Mac Laptop to a PC workstation and the software looks, feels, and acts the same.

This is where Microsoft has failed. Their GUI is horrible. Cluttered and un-intuitive, it does not look and feel the same cross platform, the program is overloaded with bloat features which should have been stripped out and put into another program. The user experience is mainly one of burden and loathing. The look and feel is depressing and overwhelming.

Microsoft is facing these problems on many fronts. They can slim down and become more flexible to compete in the newer markets or they can sit back and pray that their market share will stay loyal out of necessity.

It appears that Microsoft is going down the same path as Corel. Now to Corel's credit I will say they have tried to recover and have tried to be very responsive to user wants in features and upgrades. The thing is if they had adjusted their model early on they would have not lost the massive lead they had. Microsoft it appears is starting to see the writing on the wall as well. Trying to compete with Google Docs, trying to get more involved in the connected device market (phone tablet). Trying to emulate Apple in that respect with the MS Store and MS Hardware.

If MS wants word to win they need to overhaul the program. Strip out a lot of the junk and put it into separate programs. Be more open with file format and compatibility. Better cross platform support and device support (iPad anyone).

They need to be more like Adobe was and less like Corel was.

PS: Since I wrote a novel on this discussion I must now say this thread is now about

PIE vs BROWNIES

/discuss
The wheel is turning but the hamster is still dead.