Software

All-time favorite version of Word?


I've been writing about Word since it was a pup. And using it even longer -- all the way back to the days of Word for DOS and the first version of Mac Word. When I started writing The Cobb Group's Inside Word for Windows, the journal was focused on WinWord 1.1a -- and its big innovation was, interestingly enough, a new interface element called the Ribbon.

The Word 1.1a Ribbon. (Note the Small Caps button; what a timesaver.) Source: Inside Word for Windows

Along with the chunky ruler that sat underneath it, here came the GUI, taking its first shaky steps. Imagine the buzz when Word 2 came along and brought with it another new element, the toolbar.

"Word 2.0 features a new element called ‘the toolbar,' which appears under the menu bar. The toolbar contains a wide array of icons (Microsoft calls them buttons)..." Source: Inside Word for Windows

After that, there was no holding Word back. Fast-flip through the calendar pages, as Word 6, Word 95, Word 97, and Word 2000 fly by. I can remember these versions like a teacher remembers former students -- which, okay, is kind of pitiful, but there it is.

Word 2 was billed as a having a "usability" focus (hmmm...), with its toolbar and a new device called the print merge helper.

Word 6.0 introduced the so-called "intelligent" document processing -- the forerunner of Word's overbearing, backseat-driving intellisense antics ("Looks like you're writing a letter! Want some help?"). But there were some significant enhancements as well. More toolbars -- which you could move around and more readily customize; editable print preview; AutoFormat and Table AutoFormat, the Style Gallery; AutoText and AutoCorrect; the Organizer, Format Painter, tools for building online forms; and perhaps best of all, the ability to undo up to 100 actions (rather than just one).

Word 95 was fairly low-key, easing its way into Windows 95 functionality (long filenames!). But it also offered some interesting new features, including background spell-checking, WordMail, and the demo-pleasing Highlighter.

Some of the versions have faded over time, but I still see Word 97 from time to time. It had me at "VBA."

And although I've lost touch with 2000, I remember it as the last version of Word I really liked. XP and 2003 are okay; I got used to them. But I can never forgive the way they shot the track changes/commenting features in the foot. Feet.

So now, 2007... well to be honest, I haven't warmed up to it yet. I'm using it concurrently with 2003 for research purposes, so I haven't truly committed to it. I suspect you have to break it off with the earlier versions before you can really get to know it.


How about you? Does your history with Word consist of glacial layers of versions going back to 1.1a? Which one did you like best (or did you hate 'em all?)

About

Jody Gilbert has been writing and editing technical articles for the past 25 years. She was part of the team that launched TechRepublic and is now senior editor for Tech Pro Research.

57 comments
Fil0403
Fil0403

"Does your history with Word consist of glacial layers of versions going back to 1.1a?" No, the first Word I used was Word 95. "Which one did you like best (or did you hate ???em all?)" The one I liked best so far was by far Word 2007 (I'll leave the "hate 'em all" for the ABMs - Anything But Microsofts).

rwmarriott
rwmarriott

Favorite MS Word version? My top three are Word for Windows 3, 4, and 5. My guess is that MS didn't want to let WordPerfect get too far ahead in the numbers "game." And WP was already at 6.0 I think (both DOS and Windows). I started out with WordPerfect 5.0. I could run it on my 8088, 640k, dual 350k floppy machine (no hard drive) and use the second floppy for the documents. I really liked 5.1 (DOS) and its macro language. I'm still a WordPerfect reveal-codes fan, using v.12. Word just seems too "mouse-intensive" when I'm trying to type, and too stubborn to allow you have your document really look like you want it to look. I only use Word when I have too.

vty255
vty255

WordStar - on 360KB floppy which included operating system AND data files. No mouse to give you RSI nor superfluous functions & templates. K I S S

roznorris
roznorris

I thought WordStar was before its time.

firstaborean
firstaborean

'Way back in 1989, I decided to review all the word processors out there, and I ended up finding Word 5.0 the best for my needs. Word for DOS still is, but I need two versions, 5.5 for one work that has footnotes that run from page to page, as Word 6.0 screws up Print Preview on this. Otherwise, it's Word 6.0 (DOS) for my manuscripts, and Word 2002 for those things that Winword does best. Word 2000 was a crock, screwing up a fine instruction manual I made in Word 97 by generating spurious newline commands in some places where I used the Advance field. Word 2002 cleared this up, and it's the version of Winword I use to this day. It's the most nearly bug-free version of Word I've ever come across. I tried out Word 2007. Where's the file-open command? From a cryptic icon in the upper-left corner, I learned, upon using the keyboard command I use in Word for DOS 6.0, and that keyboard command worked. A friend has informed me that someone already has a program to reinstate the menu structure of previous versions onto Office 2007 programs. Must be a demand for it.

carlsf
carlsf

My choice would be WORD 2003

Meesha
Meesha

I too started in the PC world with products such as Volkswriter, MultiMate, Wordstar, Enable - Enable was a particular favorite until WordPerfect. Hated Word in any version and still do. Forced to use it at the office but I keep the last laugh; my current and most favorite WP program is Lotus SmartSuite Millenium. I can natively open, edit, save, convert any MS Office app such as Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc. The best feature of all is the floating properties bar - it doesn't just float but actively makes the changes without closing it. Word just can't compete. I also use from time to time Open Office and although it is acceptable it is too much like Word to be very effective for my needs. I don't need MS and I don't need an MS clone. By the way, Enable was a phenomenal suite for it's time but just lost market support. Lotus (before IBM) had their triumvirate suite - word processing, spreadsheet and database long before MS - and during it's reign I created many applications such as G/L, A/P, A/R, Inventory, Job Costing, etc. using it (Lotus Script), compiling with Clipper (before Ashton Tate bought it) and clients were never the wiser since they didn't need the Lotus suite but had a self contained fully functional application. Yes those were the days. Today, MS tries to be everything to everyone but fails miserable on many levels. That's not to say they don't have some great features just not enough to make it worth my time.

fred410
fred410

anyone remember WordStar?? It ran on old DOS as well, but there is an old windows version, i still use from time to time.

jc2it
jc2it

WordPerfect 5.1 or even better 6.0 is my favorite word proccessor. My hands never had to leave the keyboard to touch the stupid mouse. Simply put Word sucks, WordPerfect Rocks.

tundraroamer
tundraroamer

What old version? Better question might be to ask is what newer version are you not using? We still use Office 97 therefore Word 97! I do have Office 2007 on a Vista laptop. The sales staff eagerly take it out but return it later disappointed that it was not intuitive enough for them to use. They then take an older laptop out with O97 on it.

williambill6
williambill6

I did not read any of the previous posts, but I really like Word 97 and 2000. I was a previous Wordperfect user but changed to Word because it was/is the most common.

mb96001
mb96001

I used Word 97 and Word Perfect 8 for a long time. Didn't see much wrong with either one. In fact, I still see both of them used.

susan
susan

WordPerfect 5.x was my all-time favorite before having to migrate to Word.

sherman.meeds
sherman.meeds

Word 2003 (along with the entire 2003 package) is the best. I have yet to confront a serious issue or development difficulty. If there is anything negative, it would be the complexity and wide range of use. For someone well versed in Word, it is quite versatile and usable. For a new beginner, it would probably appear daunting to learn, yet still doesn't take much training to get a user to basic familiarity. From a programmer's standpoint, it is easily the best, most open, and most capable version developed, excluding 2007 (which I haven't looked closely at).

CodeBubba
CodeBubba

Word 2003 is my hands down favorite. I really started to like Word back at Word97 but with 2003 it really hit the "sweet spot" with me. I'm not as advanced with it as some folks are so some of the more "esoteric" features are not something I'd notice - but the GUI in Word 2003 is just appealing to me. Customizable, fast and it all just works. I played with 2007 for awhile and it does basically the same thing for me as 2003 does though it feels slower and has too much eye candy for my taste. I'll stick with Office 2003 for the duration unless I'm forced to upgrade for collaborative reasons (at the office). As for my personal copy that I bought and paid for I can't forsee needing an upgrade ANY time soon. -CB ;)

rmbreed
rmbreed

I got along with Word until Word 6. Ever since, I have had to work hard at trying to trick it into doing what I want it to do rather than operate the idiotic way Microsoft decrees. I still can't reliably number a paragraph heading 2.1.1 instead of 1.1.1. I need a "backdoor" that will allow me to turn off all automatic functions of Word. And why do I have to enable/disable macros that are designed into Word every time it opens? Why do I have to pay for and store web page editors/generators when I don't have or want to maintain a web page? Same for publishing, et alia ad nauseum.

shinerwright50
shinerwright50

Loved all versions of word up to 2007. Having said that 2007 has some real fancy bits but the ribbon system is too fancy for an experienced operator of previous versions who use the keyboard to navigate. The help function is so intelligent (and frustrating) as it appears to interpret questions but does not provide a solution for them - maybe that section was written by a politician!!

Gennady
Gennady

my favorite version of word is 7 (or word 95). good capabilities and a good understandability. In fact, if they would not change format in 97, I'd stay with word 95 even now (currently I'm running word 97 on XP. it's lovely).

elisa-l
elisa-l

After doing battle with Wordstar for years I went to WordPerfect 4.2 around 1986 then 5.0, 5.1 & 6.0 on DOS. After having to run windows I settled on WordPerfect 8 then 10 and the ill-fated WordPerfect 8 for unix/linux. I still have to see a Word version that works for me.

tripodd
tripodd

I've dealt with many word processing packages, mostly defunct companies now. This was when I was working for the federal government (now retired). I remember a little contact with a program called Volkswriter (or something similiar). Then we used WordStar. I believe the next package we bought (in someone's grand wisdom) was an all-in-one package called Enable. This package included word processing, spreadsheet, possibly database and some type of graphics software. It may have included a can opener. It was one of the earliest "corporate type" purchases. It was also wasn't very good at any of the features. I also wondered what the sweetener to get the contract was. I think the next word processor we purchased was WordPerfect, and we used various flavors for several years. We then finally jumped onto the Microsoft Office bandwagon (most of the competition had either folded up or was playing way distant third or worse) by Micro$oft.

Fil0403
Fil0403

Word just seems too "mouse-intensive" when you're trying to type? I think it's kinda normal that Word seems too "mouse-sensitive" to a person who is completely unaware of Word shortkeys, since that is a rather interesting comment for a program whose last iteration (Word 2007) has keyboard shortcuts for every single action/feature/option it has, mainly using the Alt key. Word is really stubborn to allow you to have your document really look like you want it to look? Now that's another rather interesting comment, because in more than 5 years I use Word I don't recall it ever trying to make my documents look any different from what I wanted them to look like (maybe Word just doesn't like you). I never use WordPerfect.

asjeff
asjeff

I have to admit that I have never played with WordPerfect although the older secretaries here still rave about it. However I suspect that is more to do with the dearth of options when compared to the newer versions of Word and their total reluctance to try anything new. I started with 95, and have been programming it since 97 up to 2007. For me the version that still stands out is 2000 - far more stable than previous versions and not so cluttered with truly obscure options that for me that made it my favourite. On saying that I must admit there are features in 2003 that I like, and no doubt I'll be able to say the same about 2007 once I have fully explored it. (2007 - what can I say? Initially unsure about it, but has been growing on me as I get more familiar with it. I suspect that this is one that people are more scared of the learning curve than they need to be. Perhaps those that remember moving up to 95 went through the same experience? Let me know?)

chuckmba@adelphia.net
chuckmba@adelphia.net

I still feel that WordPerfect was best word processor. I especially liked the reveal codes feature. It was so easy to remember shift-F7 to print. It was also easy to center my name and then right align by phone number on resumes. I hated the first windows version because all of the commands I knew were shifted to the right. The only reason I use Office 2007 is because I got a free version from MS for attending the Vista release.

hds3onlineaccts
hds3onlineaccts

You DON'T have to put up with any of that. For a very modest price, buy WordPerfect. Actually, any version of WP, all the way back to 4.x for DOS, is better than any version of Word. Hang on to Excel, though.

blackfalconsoftware
blackfalconsoftware

I have been working with Word, like many of you, for many years. My favorite version however, t o this day,is still Word 5.0 for DOS. It was simple but feature rich enough to do what I wanted. The Windows versions simply try to do to much and often get in my way.

JPL5780
JPL5780

That is because the whole world is in the process of migrating to PBU mode. JPL P.S. PBU = Polite But Useless.

Monsieur_Henri
Monsieur_Henri

I thought that WordPerfect 8 was superb, also. However, Word 10 has a clean look and is my favorite. Never read more than a few chapters of the 1200 page book on it by Microsoft;

Fil0403
Fil0403

I remember wanting to expand the topic too to Linux in a Windows-bashing thread and needless to say I was told to stick to the topic (i.e. stick to bashing Windows for the most ignorant reasons, important is to bash it), so please respect the topic and stick to it, it would make sense if Microsoft Word would even have a strong competitor, which it hasn't. P. S.: Since when is it a crime for a profit-driven company to make money? I find people who write Micro$oft rather amusing, I guess if you'd work at Microsoft you'd be giving away money to people or not making money at all in the first place.

SObaldrick
SObaldrick

This was a revolution in document processing. I used it from the early 90's until around 96 when the company I worked for brought in FrameMaker. It introduced the idea of objects into documents. You created a class, gave it properties (attributes) and then created instances for your documents. By manipulating the properties of a class you would affect every instance in your document. Word has a similar concept - 'styles', but Word is not built around these .. I believe styles were not part of early versions of Word. The way the interface to Interleaf was laid out, it was easy to manipulate these blocks of documentation. On the left was the 'map' of your document which allowed you to drag instances around and change their attributes. Interleaf, the conmpany was from Ontario - I believe they came out with a version for Windows before the company died. Don't knnow what happened to their document management tool, but I'm guessing it was the price (compared to tools like Word) that ultimately killed them. Les.

Schuylkill
Schuylkill

My first experience with a word processor was with PFS:Write on an Apple IIe. I love it for sentimental reasons, but I'm sure that if I would try to use it today, it would be a frustrating experience! Today, I use Word 2003, and am happy with it. Mail merge is much easier than on Word 97. My only complaint is, why do I need to buy a third-party add-on to send attachments in a mail-merge?

RknRlKid
RknRlKid

WordPerfect! Once again, the best product isn't necessarily the best selling product. Once again, we can see the "first glance" instance of MS being a monopoly (or at least a hegemony). Their OS is on 90% of computers built, and their office suite seems to be on 90% too. Its used only because its there, not because of any inherent quality. (Not exact numbers, but used for illustration.) I, too, remember the software dramas in the military. Remember the Zenith Z-248 systems? Came preloaded with Multimate! Then someone later got a contract with WordPerfect. Then came the laptop idea, with ENABLE. Then Windows 3.1 came out, and there was a push for Microsoft Word and Office. (The only reason I liked MS Office was for PowerPoint. We all had PowerPoint poisoning back then, because it was such a novelty to do your own presentations!) People will use what is on the computer. I wonder what would have happened if the government decided to standardize on something other than IBM compatible....or if Linux was around then in its modern form. I'm an OpenOffice and AbiWord user, btw. (And not just in Linux but in Windows too.) My favorite Word was 97. That did, IMO, everything almost anyone could want. Everything else since that, to me, has been fluff.

kcmplex
kcmplex

My work laptop has 2003 and my home computer has 2000. since I telecommute, I use my home desktop. No-one knows the difference or care. Rather than pay to upgrade from 2000, I had been following Openoffice for a while and since version 2.2 I've moved to it for home use. Very similar to office 2000. Of course I'm not publishing anything fancy, so no one still does not know the difference when I save back to word format. Once MS stops the security updates for 2000, I'll have to remove it completely I guess. I like MS office products, but for home it has gotten too expensive. My first was wordstar on DOS. Then wordperfect for DOS and windows, and of course MS after that.

ismith
ismith

I don't know if it belonged to Lotus all along or they bought it out. Borlan had a word processor for a while too. A pretty good one actually. My first word processor (and one I wouldn't go back to) was called Totl Text. I don't remember why the 'a' was left out of the word total, but it was. The program had spell-checking and could even do footnotes but everything was done through control codes, including starting a new paragraph. Then I moved on to WordStar. I used to know those keyboard commands by heart. (Ctrl-KB, Ctrl-KK, etc.) I sometimes think that I liked Word 2.0 for DOS better than anything we have now. Today's user interface is way cooler, but Word 2.0 for DOS left my styles alone and didn't insist on selecting a whole word when I wanted to select three letters. I feel as though I have to spend way too much time turning off helpful features like smart selection, format as you type every time you get a new computer or a new version of Word.

mcmcintyre
mcmcintyre

I remember ENABLE, it had a flat file database and had (as far as I can remember) the first true mail merge capability. Before that, it was wordstar for me.

Daniel.Muzrall
Daniel.Muzrall

It's what I learned first, so I've got a sweet spot for it. :) It was easy to use, and best yet, fit on a SINGLE 3.5" disk! Those were the days!

davedowd68
davedowd68

As far as I am concerned it hit the sweet spot--most features vs easy to use. Nothing before compared with it and nothing after was as easy to use. It even had a custom setup file that could be moved to different users and groups. Years ahead of its time.

Meesha
Meesha

Short cuts don't make the cut. One of the reason Word and Word knock offs are so frustrating is because of the keyboard contortions often required to do basics. Single key toggles would be much preferred over short cut keys any day. My preference is a floating properties box that dynamically allows you to make changes as required without having to click, change, apply, oops open again change, apply, oops etc.

dlrooky
dlrooky

Until M$ Word comes out with a "Reveal Codes" feature, I will stick with WordPerfect. That is still the best and easiest way to figure out why the document isn't formatted the way you told it to format ;-)

AtCollege
AtCollege

When I upgraded to WordPerfect 5.1, I loved the table feature. It was worth the upgrade.

rmbreed
rmbreed

Very simply stated and to the point. I am using OpenOffice when I can, and am thinking of going to Works when I need the compatibility. I intend to transition to Linux when I retire and am not locked in by corporate decisions.

Meesha
Meesha

Yes indeed, Interleaf was an excellent product but it was not for word processing. It was the Lamborghini of "desk top publishing" systems in the late '80s to early '90's. It was based on LISP and in fact was a company in I believe Cambridge, Mass. at least that's my best recall. It indeed was excellent in providing for tags and objects and I found that moving from Interleaf to web publishing - HTML - a snap. Many of the same tags were used in HTML as in Interleaf. The original version I used for publishing was on a DEC Alpha but once it moved to the Windows environment it lost a lot of it's initial ease and capability. The last version I used was version 5 on Windows and by then DTP was just a heavy layer to basic document creation. Using WordPerfect and it's reasonable capabilities for DTP provided a much cheaper solution. PageMaker, Framemaker, et al appear to have moved into niche markets such as printing houses and publishers but even these have evolved into web type services such as Wordtype, etc. There is not comparison for Word in these lofty circles. Word, from its earliest to its latest versions still does not paginate properly for example, nor provide the same capabilities of an older product such as Interleaf. For every day document creation, sure any word processor will do even Word. But for anyone wanting to do "real" DTP Word fails on many fronts in my estimation. Maybe with it's newest 2007 Office release and MS's adoption of XML it can better position itself for the "web" publishing market and leave the heavy DTP market alone.

clark1
clark1

I remember Enable and Enable OA from when I was in the Marine Corps back in the early 90'2. That was my first foray into computers . Man that brings back memories, too bad they are not so good with enable LOL

tobefrank
tobefrank

I have not found any "good" version of word and only use it when forced to by unimaginative IT installers/managers. Word Perfect beats it hands down !!! Word cant even get .rtf formatting right all the time and open rtf files created in other programs. Corel's Word Perfect with it's "reveal codes" is much easier to use. It also has a better spell check if you are not using American "English".

mtennant
mtennant

I started with WordPerfect 5.0 (DOS), moved to 5.1 (first Windows version) then 6.1. With each of these versions I created and taught a course in them. Then we moved to Word and I created and taught a course to explain the parallel features between the two. What a shock to move from such a way-ahead-of-its-time product to what I consider a caveman (sorry Geico) application! I still (and will always be) a WordPerfect user. I am now using Version 9 and still find it FAR superior to any other Word processor I've ever used.

yooper
yooper

You are SO correct! Word perfect 8 was way ahead of it's time, and I still use it believe or not. There are many times when I need to put newsletter or flyer together, and WP8 is MUCH better at handling formatting and graphics than Word could ever be. I really love the features and usability that's incorporated in to the app, a very eloqount piece of code!

chuckmba@adelphia.net
chuckmba@adelphia.net

I think I used the reveal codes on every document I created, mostly to delete formating that no longer needed (why have a document bigger than i really needed to be.) I was amazed at how many times I had bold turned on and then off again right next to each other. I mentioned it before, but I feel WP's biggest mistake was shifting its function keys. If I had to relearn how to format a document, I might as well learn on a new processor. Years ago I took a class to pass the NT4 MCSC and the instructor used to work for Word Perfect. He said at the computer shows they would tell the MS people that Word Perfect had the programs but MS had the marketers.

Gennady
Gennady

AFAIK, Word has a (partially) similar feature. there is a button on the toolbar that displays unvisible characters.

twtrout
twtrout

WordPerfect can be used by an amateur to produce a decent looking document. Unless you use one of the templates in Word an amateur is sunk. I thought the purpose of word processing software was for everyone to be able to "type up" their own document without having to send it to the "typing pool". With MS Word, you have to get an "expert" to type your document for you: not so with WordPerfect.

ismith
ismith

I used it exclusively for a while because I had Linux on my laptop and Windows on my desktop. You don't really need Works though. OpenOffice does a pretty good job of saving to Word format unless you are doing fancy formatting.

clark1
clark1

in Lima, I live in Kenton but work for the Sheriff's Office here in Lima taking care of their network. Let me tell ya, cops are HARD on laptops LOL

tripodd
tripodd

Figured this thread may have been dead until I stumbled upon it a few minutes ago. Happened to notice you were in Lima, Ohio. I lived in Lima from 4th grade to 11th grade, but it was back in the 60s!

Crash84
Crash84

Enable was also my first word processor and I loved it. My little finger had all the F keys mapped out to where I could format a document in no time using just the F keys. Then we went to Word 3 which I think is still my favorite edition of Word.

mtennant
mtennant

Although I haven't had a reason to use it yet, it's there under Page Setup/Margins/Multiple pages/Book Fold. The biggest problem I'm having with Word is with changing the Headers and Footers. If I insert a file that already has different Headers/Footers than between the pages of the insertion point, it doesn't bring in my inserted-page's Header/Footer (H/F). It picks up the previous pages H/F. Even using the Select All, Copy, and Paste, it doesn't keep the H/Fs. If some POWER Word user can make it more simple to understand for me, PLEASE show me!

hds3onlineaccts
hds3onlineaccts

Face it, Word is a piece of crap, plain and simple. Believe it or not, WP 5.1 for DOS was the best word processor ever published. There was nothing it couldn't do, the macro language was phenomenal, it was rock solid, and it ran "perfectly" in a very small memory and drive space! But best of all -- by far -- was the WP support staff. No one before or since provided the level of support WordPerfect Corp. provided. In fact, to this day I measure all computer support by the standard set by the WPC. Needless to say, no one comes close enough to even lick the soles of WPC's shoes. To get to talk to WPC's technicians -- and always for free! -- it was worth a half-hour or longer wait. Can you imagine anyone meeting that standard today? Ha! Alan Ashton, where are you when we need you?

cparker
cparker

When Wordperfect added "print as booklet" which I think was version 6.0, I was ecstatic, as I was producing a booklet for a club I belonged to. Word STILL does not have that feature. And let's talking about controlling tab placement. I totally agree with the administrative assistant who told me - "I don't think you're meant to tab in Word" I have to use tables to place text where I want it in Word; what a joke! Thanks for listening!

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