History of Microsoft Word

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Installation floppy of Microsoft Word for UNIX Systems, version 5.0 (distributed by SCO, 1990).[1]

The first version of Microsoft Word was developed by Charles Simonyi and Richard Brodie, former Xerox programmers hired by Bill Gates and Paul Allen in 1981. Both programmers worked on Xerox Bravo, the first WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) word processor. The first Word version, Word 1.0, was released in October 1983 for Xenix and MS-DOS; it was followed by four very similar versions that were not very successful. The first Windows version was released in 1989, with a slightly improved interface. When Windows 3.0 was released in 1990, Word became a huge commercial success. Word for Windows 1.0 was followed by Word 2.0 in 1991 and Word 6.0 in 1993. Then it was renamed to Word 95 and Word 97, Word 2000 and Word for Office XP (to follow Windows commercial names). With the release of Word 2003, the numbering was again year-based. Since then, Windows versions include Word 2007, Word 2010, Word 2013, Word 2016, and most recently, Word for Office 365.

In 1986, an agreement between Atari and Microsoft brought Word to the Atari ST.[2] The Atari ST version was a translation of Word 1.05 for the Apple Macintosh; however, it was released under the name Microsoft Write (the name of the word processor included with Windows during the 80s and early 90s).[3][4] Unlike other versions of Word, the Atari version was a one time release with no future updates or revisions. The release of Microsoft Write was one of two major PC applications that were released for the Atari ST (the other application being WordPerfect). Microsoft Write was released for the Atari ST in 1988.

In 2014 the source code for Word for Windows in the version 1.1a was made available to the Computer History Museum and the public for educational purposes.[5][6]

Word for DOS[edit]

The first Microsoft Word was released in 1983. It featured graphics video mode and mouse support in a WYSIWYG interface. It could run in text mode or graphics mode but the visual difference between the two was minor. In graphics mode, the document and interface were rendered in a fixed font size monospace character grid with italic, bold and underline features that was not available in text mode. It had support for style sheets in separate files (.STY).

The first version of Word was a 16 bits PC DOS/MS-DOS application. A Macintosh 68000 version named Word 1.0 was released in 1985 and a Microsoft Windows version was released in 1989. The three products shared the same Microsoft Word name, the same version numbers but were very different products built on different code bases. Three product lines co-existed: Word 1.0 to Word 5.1a[7] for Macintosh, Word 1.0 to Word 2.0 for Windows and Word 1.0 to Word 5.5 for DOS.

Word 1.1 for DOS was released in 1984 and added the Print Merge support, equivalent to the Mail Merge feature in newer Word systems.

Word 2.0 for DOS was released in 1985 and featured Extended Graphics Adapter (EGA) support.

Word 3.0 for DOS was released in 1986.

Word 4.0 for DOS was released in 1987 and added support for revision marks (equivalent to the Track Changes feature in more recent Word versions), search/replace by style and macros stored as key stroke sequences.[8]

Word 5.0 for DOS, released in 1989, added support for bookmarks, cross-references and conditions and loops in macros, remaining backwards compatible with Word 3.0 macros. The macro language differed from the WinWord 1.0 WordBasic macro language.

Word 5.5 for DOS, released in 1990, significantly changed the user interface, with popup menus and dialog boxes. Even in graphics mode, these Graphical User Interface (GUI) elements got the monospace ASCII art look and feel found in text mode programs like Microsoft QuickBasic.

Word 6.0 for DOS, the last Word for DOS version, was released in 1993, at the same time as Word 6.0 for Windows (16 bits) and Word 6.0 for Macintosh. Although Macintosh and Windows versions shared the same code base, the Word for DOS was different. The Word 6.0 for DOS macro language was compatible with the Word 3.x-5.x macro language while Word 6.0 for Windows and Word 6.0 for Macintosh inherited WordBasic from the Word 1.0/2.0 for Windows code base. The DOS and Windows versions of Word 6.0 had different file formats.

Word for Windows 1989 to 1995[edit]

The first version of Word for Windows was released in November 1989 at a price of USD $498, but was not very popular as Windows users still comprised a minority of the market.[9] The next year, Windows 3.0 debuted, followed shortly afterwards by WinWord 1.1 which was updated for the new OS. The failure of WordPerfect to produce a Windows version proved a fatal mistake. The following year, in 1991, WinWord 2.0 was released which had further improvements and finally solidified Word's marketplace dominance. WinWord 6.0 came out in 1993 and was designed for the newly released Windows 3.1.[10]

The early versions of Word also included copy protection mechanisms that tried to detect debuggers, and if one was found, it produced the message "The tree of evil bears bitter fruit. Only the Shadow knows. Now trashing program disk." and performed a zero seek on the floppy disk (but did not delete its contents).[11][12][13]

After MacWrite, Word for Macintosh never had any serious rivals, although programs such as Nisus Writer provided features such as non-continuous selection, which were not added until Word 2002 in Office XP. Word 5.1 for the Macintosh, released in 1992, was a very popular word processor, owing to its elegance, relative ease of use and feature set. However, version 6.0 for the Macintosh, released in 1994, was widely derided, unlike the Windows version. It was the first version of Word based on a common code base between the Windows and Mac versions; many accused the Mac version of being slow, clumsy and memory intensive.

With the release of Word 6.0 in 1993 Microsoft again attempted to synchronize the version numbers and coordinate product naming across platforms; this time across the three versions for DOS, Macintosh, and Windows (where the previous version was Word for Windows 2.0). There may have also been thought given to matching the current version 6.0 of WordPerfect for DOS and Windows, Word's major competitor. However, this wound up being the last version of Word for DOS. In addition, subsequent versions of Word were no longer referred to by version number, and were instead named after the year of their release (e.g. Word 95 for Windows, synchronizing its name with Windows 95, and Word 98 for Macintosh), once again breaking the synchronization.

When Microsoft became aware of the Year 2000 problem, it released the entire DOS port of Microsoft Word 5.5 instead of getting people to pay for the update. As of November 2019, it is still available for download from Microsoft's web site.[14]

Word 6.0 was the second attempt to develop a common code base version of Word. The first, code-named Pyramid, had been an attempt to completely rewrite the existing product. It was abandoned when Chris Peters replaced Jeff Raikes at the lead developer of the Word project[15] and determined it would take the development team too long to rewrite and then catch up with all the new capabilities that could have been added in the same time without a rewrite. Therefore, Word 6.0 for Windows and Macintosh were both derived from Word 2.0 for Windows code base. The Word 3.0 to 5.0 for Windows version numbers were skipped (outside of DBCS locales) in order to keep the version numbers consistent between Macintosh and Windows versions. Supporters of Pyramid claimed that it would have been faster, smaller, and more stable than the product that was eventually released for Macintosh, and which was compiled using a beta version of Visual C++ 2.0 that targets the Macintosh, so many optimizations have to be turned off (the version 4.2.1 of Office is compiled using the final version), and sometimes use the Windows API simulation library included.[16] Pyramid would have been truly cross-platform, with machine-independent application code and a small mediation layer between the application and the operating system.

More recent versions of Word for Macintosh are no longer ported versions of Word for Windows.

Later versions of Word have more capabilities than merely word processing. The drawing tool allows simple desktop publishing operations, such as adding graphics to documents.

Microsoft Office[edit]

Word 95[edit]

Word 95 was released as part of Office 95 and was numbered 7.0, consistently with all Office components. It ran exclusively on the Win32 platform, but otherwise had few new features. The file format did not change.

Word 97[edit]

Word 97 had the same general operating performance as later versions such as Word 2000. This was the first copy of Word featuring the Office Assistant, "Clippit", which was an animated helper used in all Office programs. This was a takeover from the earlier launched concept in Microsoft Bob. Word 97 introduced the macro programming language Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) which remains in use in Word 2016.

Word 98[edit]

Word 98 for the Macintosh gained many features of Word 97, and was bundled with the Macintosh Office 98 package. Document compatibility reached parity with Office 97 and Word on the Mac became a viable business alternative to its Windows counterpart. Unfortunately, Word on the Mac in this and later releases also became vulnerable to future macro viruses that could compromise Word (and Excel) documents, leading to the only situation where viruses could be cross-platform. A Windows version of this was only bundled with the Japanese/Korean Microsoft Office 97 Powered By Word 98 and could not be purchased separately. It was then released in the same period as well.

Word 2000[edit]

Word 2001/Word X[edit]

Word 2001 was bundled with the Macintosh Office for that platform, acquiring most, if not all, of the feature set of Word 2000. Released in October 2000, Word 2001 was also sold as an individual product. The Macintosh version, Word X, released in 2001, was the first version to run natively on (and required) Mac OS X.

Word 2002/XP[edit]

Word 2002 was bundled with Office XP and was released in 2001. It had many of the same features as Word 2000, but had a major new feature called the 'Task Panes', which gave quicker information and control to a lot of features that were before only available in modal dialog boxes. One of the key advertising strategies for the software was the removal of the Office Assistant in favor of a new help system, although it was simply disabled by default.

Word 2003[edit]

Microsoft Office 2003 is an office suite developed and distributed by Microsoft for its Windows operating system. Office 2003 was released to manufacturing on August 19, 2003, and was later released to retail on October 21, 2003. It was the successor to Office XP and the predecessor to Office 2007.

Word 2004[edit]

A new Macintosh version of Office was released in May 2004. Substantial cleanup of the various applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) and feature parity with Office 2003 (for Microsoft Windows) created a very usable release. Microsoft released patches through the years to eliminate most known macro vulnerabilities from this version. While Apple released Pages and the open source community created NeoOffice, Word remains the most widely used word processor on the Macintosh. Office 2004 for Mac is a version of Microsoft Office developed for Mac OS X. It is equivalent to Office 2003 for Windows. The software was originally written for PowerPC Macs, so Macs with Intel CPUs must run the program under Mac OS X's Rosetta emulation layer. Also: Stable release: v11.6.6 / December 13, 2011; 7 years ago

Word 2007[edit]

The release includes numerous changes, including a new XML-based file format, a redesigned interface, an integrated equation editor and bibliographic management. Additionally, an XML data bag was introduced, accessible via the object model and file format, called Custom XML – this can be used in conjunction with a new feature called Content Controls to implement structured documents. It also has contextual tabs, which are functionality specific only to the object with focus, and many other features like Live Preview (which enables you to view the document without making any permanent changes), Mini Toolbar, Super-tooltips, Quick Access toolbar, SmartArt, etc.

Word 2007 uses a new file format called docx. Word 2000–2003 users on Windows systems can install a free add-on called the "Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack" to be able to open, edit, and save the new Word 2007 files.[17] Alternatively, Word 2007 can save to the old doc format of Word 97–2003.[18][19]

Word 2008[edit]

Word 2008 was released on January 15, 2008. It includes some new features from Word 2007, such as a ribbon-like feature that can be used to select page layouts and insert custom diagrams and images. Word 2008 also features native support for the new Office Open XML format, although the old doc format can be set as a default.[20] Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac is a version of the Microsoft Office productivity suite for Mac OS X. It supersedes Office 2004 for Mac and is the Mac OS X equivalent of Office 2007. Office 2008 was developed by Microsoft's Macintosh Business Unit and released on January 15, 2008.

Word 2010[edit]

Microsoft Office 2010 is a version of the Microsoft Office productivity suite for Microsoft Windows. Office 2010 was released to manufacturing on April 15, 2010, and was later made available for retail and online purchase on June 15, 2010. It is the successor to Office 2007 and the predecessor to Office 2013.

Word 2011[edit]

Word 2013[edit]

The release of Word 2013 has brought Word a cleaner look and this version focuses further on Cloud Computing with documents being saved automatically to OneDrive (previously Skydrive). If enabled, documents and settings roam with the user. Other notable features are a new read mode which allows for horizontal scrolling of pages in columns, a bookmark to find where the user left off reading their document and opening PDF documents in Word just like Word content. The version released for the Windows 8 operating system is modified for use with a touchscreen and on tablets. It is the first version of Word to not run on Windows XP or Windows Vista.[21]

Word 2016[edit]

On July 9, 2015, Microsoft Word 2016 was released. Features include the tell me, share and faster shape formatting options. Other useful features include realtime collaboration, which allows users to store documents on Share Point or OneDrive, as well as an improved version history and a smart lookup tool. As usual, several editions of the program were released, including one for home and one for business.

Word 2019[edit]

Word 2019 added support for Scalable Vector Graphics, Microsoft Translator, and LaTeX, as well as expanded drawing functionality.[22]

Word included with Office 365[edit]

Microsoft Office 365 is a free/paid subscription plan for the classic Office applications.


  1. ^ Marshall, Martin (January 8, 1990). "SCO Begins Shipping Microsoft Word 5.0 for Unix and Xenix". InfoWorld. p. 6. Retrieved May 20, 2021.
  2. ^ Atari announces agreement with Microsoft
  3. ^ Feature Review: Microsoft Write
  4. ^ Today's Atari Corp.: A close up look inside
  5. ^ Shustek, Len (March 24, 2014). "Microsoft Word for Windows Version 1.1a Source Code". Retrieved March 29, 2014.
  6. ^ Levin, Roy (March 25, 2014). "Microsoft makes source code for MS-DOS and Word for Windows available to public". Official Microsoft Blog. Archived from the original on March 28, 2014. Retrieved March 29, 2014.
  7. ^ "Word Refuseniks: Never Upgrade". Wired. June 17, 2004. Retrieved December 21, 2019.
  8. ^ Lombardi, John (1987). Quantum Leap Puts Microsoft Word Out in Front. InfoWorld. p. 67.
  9. ^ Lombradi, John (January 15, 1990). "Welcome Microsoft Word in A New Version of Windows" (PDF). InfoWorld. Retrieved July 9, 2013.
  10. ^ "Whatever Happened To LocoScript?". Micromart. 2007. Retrieved May 2, 2009.[dead link]
  11. ^ Anderson, Ross (2008). "Chapter 22: Copyright and DRM" (PDF). Security Engineering (2nd ed.). Indianapolis: Wiley Publishing. p. 684. ISBN 978-0-470-06852-6.
  12. ^ "Microsoft Word for DOS 1.15".
  13. ^ "Jerry Pournelle proclaims Microsoft Excel the business software of 1985". Byte. April 1996. Archived from the original on December 20, 1996.
  14. ^ "Free version of Microsoft Word 5.5 for DOS (EXE format)". Retrieved May 25, 2012.
  15. ^ "Mac Word 6.0 | Buggin' My Life Away". blogs.msdn.microsoft.com. Archived from the original on April 12, 2016.
  16. ^ "Buggin' My Life Away: Mac Word 6.0". Archived from the original on May 14, 2004. Retrieved December 29, 2009.
  17. ^ http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=941B3470-3AE9-4AEE-8F43-C6BB74CD1466&displaylang=en Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007 File Formats
  18. ^ https://archive.today/20120715033535/http://techrepublic.com.com/5208-6230-0.html?forumID=102&threadID=218738&messageID=2212198 How to save as doc in Word 2007
  19. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 24, 2010. Retrieved December 29, 2009.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) How to configure Word 2007 to always save as doc
  20. ^ The default format can be changed under preferences → save → dropdown menu [1]
  21. ^ Microsoft Technet System Requirements for Office 2013
  22. ^ What's New in Microsoft Office 2019 — HelpdeskGeek

Further reading[edit]

  • Tsang, Cheryl. Microsoft: First Generation. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. ISBN 0-471-33206-2.
  • Liebowitz, Stan J. & Margolis, Stephen E. WINNERS, LOSERS & MICROSOFT: Competition and Antitrust in High Technology Oakland: Independent Institute. ISBN 0-945999-80-1.

External links[edit]