Not sure if my recollections are correct, but I don't believe either DOS
(before 2.x) or the DOS version of Word were written by Microsoft. I seem to
recall that both were purchased and re-branded.
Word for MS-DOS was typical of the approach Microsoft would perfect over
many subsequent years. Its success (actually not all that great) was based
almost entirely on marketing.
In its heyday, almost all word processors for the MS-DOS / PC-DOS platform
were at least as good as Word, and many were far superior. WordPerfect (4.x
and later) were far more suitable for anyone actually attempting to create a
document. Word, for instance, took up fully half of the available (80x25)
screen space with typically "intuitive" menus (isn't it obvious to a new
user that Esc-File-Transfer is the appropriate sequence for saving a file? -
and weren't most users pretty new back then?).
And as for printing, one needed to have a Microsoft "approved" (as opposed
to "supported;" even then, arrogance was one of their hallmarks) printer
(nothing wrong with Epson and Okidata, of course, but remember when the HP
LaserJet first appeared?) to get any output. Most of its competitors
supported many more devices. My recollection is that Microsoft Word's
support for the LaserJet (we had both where I worked when that first
appeared) came a good six months after WordPerfect's.
I remember training secretaries on an IBM standalone word processor machine
(can't recall the model, but it used 8" floppies); this effort went quite
smoothly. When we later began introducing those PC things, I had a devil of
a time training those same secretaries on Word (we fell for the OS-WP
compatibility argument), it was a disaster. We then shifted gears to
WordPerfect which had an even higher learning curve initially, but most
caught on to its way of thinking very quickly.
When WordPerfect 5.x arrived, there was even the ability to display a
graphic preview (almost WYSIWYG) display of the printed output on a normal
character screen - and this was available not only for DOS versions, but on
a wide variety of platforms such as the then popular DEC and DG terminals.
Since most other machines had standard VT-100 emulation, life was good for
In those days as I recall, I only ran into a minority of businesses that
used Word. There were a good number of other pretty capable word processors
in use, a number of which also included "database" and other such modules
(too primitive to call them "suites," I suppose, but the idea was there. But
I think the combination of WordPerfect and Lotus 1-2-3 was far more common
than Word and (uh-oh, Excel didn't come along until later).
Sorry for the trip down memory lane, but I agree that this is undoubtedly
some sort of publicity stunt. Call me cynical, but I can't help wondering
what's up their sleeve with this.
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