Chris Pratley, the Program Management manager for Word (amongst other things) discusses Word and its movement from "worst to first" in market share. It's an interesting read, and explains one thing very clearly (at least to me) - Word was a far, far better product back when it had meaningful competition. At this point, Word's developers have utterly forgotten what end users want, and it shows. What do I mean? Well, here's my list of irritations with Word - none of them utterly crippling, but the collection would make me switch products in a heartbeat if a decent competitor existed. Word Perfect isn't it, because it mostly stinks in the same ways (my Wife uses it).
It didn't used to be this way - I recall liking Word for Windows 2.0. It stayed out of my way, and did what I wanted. The current product mostly gets in my way, and does things I dislike:
- Bullets and Numbering - yes, I've mentioned this before. However, I shouldn't have to use copy/paste to ensure that a bullet goes where I want it. This part of Word is just broken
- Those adjusting menus - they drive me nuts, because all my learned behavior from older versions of Word is shot. When I pull a menu, the items aren't where I expect them - and often aren't there at all until I pull the whole menu. It ought to be easy to turn this off - but the options don't look obvious to me
- The HTML export - the HTML created is a mess. Does no one in Redmond actually know HTML? Based on Word, my guess would be "no".
Doesn't look like a long list, does it? It's not - but the mess with bullets ticks me off every time I use the product. It's a constant, low level irritation, just like the menu thing. The irritation is exacerbated by the knowledge that this stuff used to work - I know that I did not have to fight bullet lists every step of the way in WfW 2.0. It's been a downhill slide since 2.0, as far as I'm concerned - regardless of what the reviewers have said...