Microsoft Word

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Microsoft Word (Windows)
MS Word 2007.png
Microsoft Office Word 2007 in Windows Vista
Developer(s) Microsoft
Stable release
12.0.6212.1000 (2007) / December 11, 2007
Operating system Microsoft Windows
Type Word processor
License Proprietary EULA
Microsoft Word (Mac OS X)
Microsoft Word:Mac 2008 running on Mac OS X 10.5.
Developer(s) Microsoft
Stable release
12.0.0 (2008) / January 15, 2008
Operating system Mac OS X
Type Word processor
License Proprietary EULA
Website Microsoft Word:Mac 2008

Microsoft Word is Microsoft's flagship word processing software. It was first released in 1983 under the name Multi-Tool Word for Xenix systems.[1] Versions were later written for several other platforms including IBM PCs running DOS (1983), the Apple Macintosh (1984), SCO UNIX, OS/2 and Microsoft Windows (1989). It is a component of the Microsoft Office system; however, it is also sold as a standalone product and included in Microsoft Works Suite. Beginning with the 2003 version, the branding was revised to emphasize Word's identity as a component within the Office suite; Microsoft began calling it Microsoft Office Word instead of merely Microsoft Word. The latest release is Word 2008 for Mac OS X.


Word 1981 to 1989

Many concepts and ideas of Word were brought from Bravo, the original GUI word processor developed at Xerox PARC. Bravo's creator Charles Simonyi left PARC to work for Microsoft in 1981. Simonyi hired Richard Brodie, who had worked with him on Bravo, away from PARC that summer.[2][3] On February 1, 1983, development on what was originally named Multi-Tool Word began.

Having renamed it Microsoft Word, Microsoft released the program October 25, 1983, for the IBM PC. Free demonstration copies of the application were bundled with the November 1983 issue of PC World, making it the first program to be distributed on-disk with a magazine.[1] However, it was not well received, and sales lagged behind those of rival products such as WordPerfect.[citation needed]

Word featured a concept of "What You See Is What You Get", or WYSIWYG, and was the first application with such features as the ability to display bold and italics text on an IBM PC.[1] Word made full use of the mouse, which was so unusual at the time that Microsoft offered a bundled Word-with-Mouse package. Although MS-DOS was a character-based system, Microsoft Word was the first word processor for the IBM PC that showed actual line breaks and typeface markups such as bold and italics directly on the screen while editing, although this was not a true WYSIWYG system because available displays did not have the resolution to show actual typefaces. Other DOS word processors, such as WordStar and WordPerfect, used simple text only display with markup codes on the screen or sometimes, at the most, alternative colors.[4]

As with most D.O.S. software, each program had its own, often complicated, set of commands and nomenclature for performing functions that had to be learned. For example, in Word for MS-DOS, a file would be saved with the sequence Escape-T-S: pressing Escape called up the menu box, T accessed the set of options for Transfer and S was for Save (the only similar interface belonged to Microsoft's own Multiplan spreadsheet). As most secretaries had learned how to use WordPerfect, companies were reluctant to switch to a rival product that offered few advantages. Desired features in Word such as indentation before typing (emulating the F4 feature in WordPerfect), the ability to block text to copy it before typing, instead of picking up mouse or blocking after typing, and a reliable way to have macros and other functions always replicate the same function time after time, were just some of Word's problems for production typing.

Word for Macintosh, despite the major differences in look and feel from the DOS version, was ported by Ken Shapiro with only minor changes from the DOS source code,[citation needed] which had been written with high-resolution displays and laser printers in mind although none were yet available to the general public. Following the introduction of LisaWrite and MacWrite, Word for Macintosh attempted to add closer WYSIWYG features into its package. After Word for Mac was released in 1985, it gained wide acceptance. There was no Word 2.0 for Macintosh; this was the first attempt to synchronize version numbers across platforms.

The second release of Word for Macintosh, named Word 3.0, was shipped in 1987. It included numerous internal enhancements and new features but was plagued with bugs. Within a few months Word 3.0 was superseded by Word 3.01, which was much more stable. All registered users of 3.0 were mailed free copies of 3.01, making this one of Microsoft's most expensive mistakes up to that time. Word 4.0 was released in 1989.

Word 1990 to 1995

The first version of Word for Windows was released in 1989 at a price of 500 US dollars. With the release of Windows 3.0 the following year, sales began to pick up (Word for Windows 1.0 was designed for use with Windows 3.0, and its performance was poorer with the versions of Windows available when it was first released). The failure of WordPerfect to produce a Windows version proved a fatal mistake. It was version 2.0 of Word, however, that firmly established Microsoft Word as the market leader.[citation needed]

After MacWrite, Word for Macintosh never had any serious rivals, although programs such as Nisus Writer provided features such as non-contiguous selection which were not added until Word 2002 in Office XP. In addition, many users complained that major updates reliably came more than two years apart, too long for most business users at that time.

Word 5.1 for the Macintosh, released in 1992, was a very popular word processor due 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 codebase between the Windows and Mac versions; many accused it of being slow, clumsy and memory intensive. In response to user requests, Microsoft offered a free "downgrade" to Word 5.1 for dissatisfied Word 6.0 purchasers. The equivalent Windows version was also numbered 6.0 to coordinate product naming across platforms, despite the fact that the previous version was Word for Windows 2.0.

When Microsoft became aware of the Year 2000 problem, it released the entire version of DOS port of Microsoft Word 5.5 instead of getting people to pay for the update. As of February 2008, it is still available for download from Microsoft's web site.[5]

Word 6.0 was the second attempt to develop a common codebase version of Word. The first, code-named Pyramid, had been an attempt to completely rewrite the existing Word product. It was abandoned when it was determined that 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. Proponents of Pyramid claimed it would have been faster, smaller, and more stable than the product that was eventually released for Macintosh, 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.[6] 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 although some code is often appropriated from the Windows version for the Macintosh version.[citation needed]

Later versions of Word have more capabilities than just word processing. The Drawing tool allows simple desktop publishing operations such as adding graphics to documents. Collaboration, document comparison, multilingual support, translation and many other capabilities have been added over the years.[citation needed]

Word 97

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", which was an animated helper used in all Office programs. This was a take over from the earlier launched concept in Microsoft Bob.

Word 98

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.

Word 2000

For most users, one of the most obvious changes introduced with Word 2000 (and the rest of the Office 2000 suite) was a clipboard that could hold multiple objects at once. Another noticeable change was that the Office Assistant, whose frequent unsolicited appearance in Word 97 had annoyed many users, was changed to be less intrusive.

Word 2001/Word X

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 individually apart from the Office suite. The Macintosh version, Word X, released in 2001, was the first version to run natively on (and require) Mac OS X.

Word 2002/XP

Template:Sectionstub Word 2002 was bundled with Office XP and was released in 2001. Although its appearance was different, it had many of the same features as Word 2003. 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

File:Office Word 2003.png
Office Word 2003

For the 2003 version, the Office programs, including Word, were rebranded to emphasize the unity of the Office suite, so that Microsoft Word officially became Microsoft Office Word. Users continue to use both names.

Word 2004

A new Macintosh version of Office was released in May 2004. Substantial cleanup of the various applications (Word, Excel, Powerpoint) and feature creep (on par with Office 2003) created a very Mac-like Word release.[clarification needed] 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.

Word 2007

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 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 formatting breaks the ability for users to send files to earlier version Word users on the Macintosh or Windows (version 2004 on the Mac, 2003 on Windows). Some third-party converters have become available to assist with this, but for most, simply saving Word 2007 files with the 'Save As' command and selecting Word 2003 format creates a compatible file. Office 2008 for the Mac will acquire (restore) the cross-platform capability with the .docx format, but older version users on either platform will remain at a disadvantage.

Word 2008

Word 2008 is the most recent version of Microsoft Word for the Mac, 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.

File formats

Although the ".doc" extension has been used in many different versions of Word, it actually encompasses four distinct file formats:

  1. Word for DOS
  2. Word for Windows 1 and 2; Word 4 and 5 for Mac
  3. Word 6 and Word 95; Word 6 for Mac
  4. Word 97, 2000, 2002, 2003 and 2007; Word 98, 2001, X, and 2004 for Mac

The newer ".docx" extension signifies Office Open XML and is used by Word 2007 for Windows and Word 2008 for the Macintosh. Word is incapable of reading or writing OpenDocument documents without a converter.

Microsoft does not guarantee the correct display of the document on different workstations, even if the two workstations use the same version of Microsoft Word.[7] This means that the document the recipient sees might not be exactly the same as the document the sender sees.

Binary formats and handling

As Word became the dominant word processor in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Word document formats (.DOC) became a de facto standard of document file formats due to their popularity. Though usually just referred to as "Word document format", this term refers primarily to the range of formats used by default in Word version 97–2007. Rich Text Format (RTF), an early effort to create a format for interchanging formatted text between applications, is an optional format for Word that retains most formatting and all content of the original document. Later, after HTML appeared, Word supported an HTML derivative as an additional full-fidelity roundtrip format similar to RTF, with the additional capability that the file could be viewed in a web browser. Word 2007 uses Microsoft Office Open XML as its default format, but retains the older Word 97–2007 format for compatibility reasons. It also supports (for output only) PDF and XPS format. Microsoft has published specifications for the Word 97-2007 Binary File Format[8] and the Office Open XML format.[9]

The document formats of the various versions change in subtle and not so subtle ways; formatting created in newer versions does not always survive when viewed in older versions of the program, nearly always because that capability does not exist in the previous version.

Word document files with the .doc extension, known as the Word 97-2007 Binary File Format, implement OLE (Object Linking and Embedding) structured storage to manage the structure of its file format. OLE behaves rather like a conventional hard drive filesystem, and is made up of several key components. Each word document is composed of so called "big blocks" which are almost always (but do not have to be) 512-byte chunks, hence a Word documents filesize will always be a multiple of 512. "Storages" are analogues of the directory on a disk drive, and point to other storages or "streams" which are similar to files on a disk. The text in a Word document is always contained in the "WordDocument" stream. The first big block in a Word document, known as the "header" block, provides important information as to the location of the major data structures in the document. "Property storages" provide metadata about the storages and streams in a .doc file, such as where it begins and its name and so forth. The "File information block" contains information about where the text in a word document starts, ends, what version of Word created the document, and other attributes.

People who do not use MS Office sometimes find it difficult to use a Word document. Various solutions have been created. Since the formats are de facto standards, many word processors such as AbiWord or Writer include file import and export filters for the Word Binary File Format to compete. Furthermore, there is Apache Jakarta POI, which is an open-source Java library that aims to read and write such documents. Macintosh users had file translator filters such as MacLink Plus with the ability to interconvert Word, Works, WordPerfect, NisysWriter and many other formats. Most of this interoperability has been achieved through reverse engineering since, with the exception of RTF, documentation of the Word file formats was not publicly available until February 2008.

For the last 10 years Microsoft has also made available freeware viewer programs [10], but only for Windows, that can read Word documents without a full version of Microsoft Word needing to be installed. There is also posibility to use compatible office suites like or Google Docs to open Word documents on every supported platforms for free of charge. Microsoft has also provided converters that enable different versions of Word to import and export to older Word versions and other formats and converters for older Word versions to read documents created in newer Word formats.[11] The whole Office product range is covered by the Office Converter Pack for Office 97–2003 and Office Compatibility Pack for Office 2000–2007 since the release of Office 2007.[12]

Microsoft Office Open XML

The aforementioned Word format is a binary format. Microsoft has moved towards an XML-based file format for their office applications with Office 2007: Microsoft Office Open XML. This format does not conform fully to standard XML. It is, however, publicly documented as Ecma standard 376. Public documentation of the default file format is a first for Word, and makes it considerably easier, though not trivial, for competitors to interoperate. Efforts to establish it as an ISO standard are also underway. Another XML-based, public file format supported by Word 2003 is WordprocessingML.

It is possible to write plugins permitting Word to read and write formats it does not natively support.

Features and flaws is the master template from which all Word documents are created. It is one of the most important files in Microsoft Word. It determines the margin defaults as well as the layout of the text and font defaults. Although is already set with certain defaults, the user can change to new defaults. This will change other documents which were created using the template and saved with the option to automatically update the formatting styles.


Like other Microsoft Office documents, Word files can include advanced macros and even embedded programs. The language was originally WordBasic, but changed to Visual Basic for Applications as of Word 97.

This extensive functionality can also be used to run and propagate viruses in documents. The tendency for people to exchange Word documents via email, USB key, and floppy makes this an especially attractive vector. A prominent example is the Melissa worm, but countless others have existed in the wild. Some anti-virus software can detect and clean common macro viruses, and firewalls may prevent worms from transmitting themselves to other systems.

These Macro viruses are the only known cross-platform threats between Windows and Macintosh computers and they were the only infection vectors to affect any Mac OS X system up until the advent of video codec trojans in 2007. Microsoft's released patches for Word X and Word 2004 effectively eliminated the Macro problem on the Mac by 2006.

Word's macro security setting, which regulates when macros may execute, can be adjusted by the user, but in the most recent versions of Word, is set to HIGH by default, generally reducing the risk from macro-based viruses, which have become uncommon.

Layout issues

As of Word 2007 for Windows (and Word 2004 for Macintosh), the program has been unable to handle ligatures defined in TrueType fonts: those ligature glyphs with Unicode codepoints may be inserted manually, but are not recognized by Word for what they are, breaking spellchecking, while custom ligatures present in the font are not accessible at all. Other layout deficiencies of Word include the inability to set crop marks or thin spaces. Various third-party workaround utilities have been developed.[13] Similarly, combining diacritics are handled poorly: Word 2003 has "improved support", but many diacritics are still misplaced, even if a precomposed glyph is present in the font. Additionally, as of Word 2002, Word does automatic font substitution when it finds a character in a document that does not exist in the font specified. It is impossible to deactivate this, making it very difficult to spot when a glyph used is missing from the font in use.

In Word 2004 for Macintosh, complex scripts support was inferior even to Word 97, and Word does not support Apple Advanced Typography features like ligatures or glyph variants. [14]

Bullets and numbering

Users report that Word's bulleting and numbering system is highly problematic. Particularly troublesome is Word's system for restarting numbering.[15] However, the Bullets and Numbering system has been significantly overhauled for Office 2007, which is intended to reduce the severity of these problems. It should also be noted that troublesome bulleting and numbering is endemic to other Word processing applications, especially the Writer application which is especially poor at handling bullets and outline numbering. Bullet and numbering problems in Word include: bullet characters are often changed and altered, indentation is changed within the same list, and bullet point or number sequence can belong to an entirely different nests within the same sequence.

Creating Tables

Users can also create tables in MS Word. Depending on the version, Word can perform simple calculations. Formulae are supported as well.


AutoSummarize highlights passages or phrases that it considers valuable. The amount of text to be retained can be specified by the user as a percentage of the current amount of text.

According to Ron Fein of the Word 97 team, Auto Summarize cuts wordy copy to the bone by counting words and ranking sentences. First, AutoSummarize identifies the most common words in the document (barring "a" and "the" and the like) and assigns a "score" to each word--the more frequently a word is used, the higher the score. Then, it "averages" each sentence by adding the scores of its words and dividing the sum by the number of words in the sentence--the higher the average, the higher the rank of the sentence. "It's like the ratio of wheat to chaff," explains Fein. [16]


Microsoft Word 5.5 for DOS

Versions for MS-DOS include the following:

  • 1983 November — Word 1
  • 1985 — Word 2
  • 1986 — Word 3
  • 1987 — Word 4 aka Microsoft Word 4.0 for the PC
  • 1989 — Word 5
  • 1991 — Word 5.1
  • 1991 — Word 5.5
  • 1993 — Word 6.0

Versions for the Macintosh (Mac OS and Mac OS X) include the following:

  • 1985 January — Word 1 for the Macintosh
  • 1987 — Word 3
  • 1989 — Word 4
  • 1991 — Word 5
  • 1993 — Word 6
  • 1998 — Word 98
  • 2000 — Word 2001, the last version compatible with Mac OS 9
  • 2001 — Word v.X, the first version for Mac OS X only
  • 2004 — Word 2004, part of Office 2004 for Mac
  • 2008 — Word 2008, part of Office 2008 for Mac
Microsoft Word 1.0 for Windows 3.x

Versions for Microsoft Windows include the following:

  • 1989 November — Word for Windows 1.0 for Windows 2.x, code-named Opus
  • 1990 March — Word for Windows 1.1 for Windows 3.0, code-named Bill the Cat
  • 1990 June — Word for Windows 1.1a for Windows 3.1
  • 1991 — Word for Windows 2.0, code-named Spaceman Spiff
  • 1993 — Word for Windows 6.0, code-named T3 (renumbered 6 to bring Windows version numbering in line with that of DOS version, Macintosh version and also WordPerfect, the main competing word processor at the time; also a 32-bit version for Windows NT only)
  • 1995 — Word for Windows 95 (version 7.0) - included in Office 95
  • 1997 — Word 97 (version 8.0) included in Office 97
  • 1998 — Word 98 (version 8.5) only included in Office 97 Powered By Word 98—only released in Japan and Korea
  • 1999 — Word 2000 (version 9.0) included in Office 2000
  • 2001 — Word 2002 (version 10) included in Office XP
  • 2003 — Word 2003 (officially "Microsoft Office Word 2003") - (ver. 11) included in Office 2003
  • 2006 — Word 2007 (officially "Microsoft Office Word 2007") - (ver. 12) included in Office 2007; released to businesses on November 30th 2006, released worldwide to consumers on January 30th 2007

Versions for SCO UNIX include the following:

Versions for OS/2 include the following:

  • 1992 Microsoft Word for OS/2 version 1.1B

See also

Further reading

  • 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.


  1. ^ a b c A. Allen, Roy (2001). "Chapter 12: Microsoft in the 1980's" (PDF). A History of the Personal Computer: The People and the Technology (1st edition ed.). Allan Publishing. pp. 12–13. ISBN 0-9689108-0-7. Retrieved 2006-07-04. Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  2. ^ Cheryl Tsang (1999). Microsoft: First Generation. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 0-471-33206-2.
  3. ^ Rick Schaut (May 19, 2004). "Anatomy of a Software Bug". MSDN Blogs. Retrieved 2006-12-02.
  4. ^ The first WYSIWYG version of WordPerfect was 6.0, released in 1993:
  5. ^ "Free version of Microsoft Word 5.5 for DOS (EXE format)". Retrieved 2008-02-14.
  6. ^ Buggin' My Life Away : Mac Word 6.0
  7. ^ "Why does my Microsoft Word document display differently on different computers?". Puget Sound Software, LLC and Leo A. Notenboom. 2006. Unknown parameter |accessyear= ignored (|access-date= suggested) (help); Unknown parameter |accessmonthday= ignored (help)
  8. ^ "Microsoft Office Binary (doc, xls, ppt) File Formats". Microsoft. February 15 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-21. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  9. ^ "Standard ECMA-376 - Office Open XML File Formats". Ecma International. December 2006. Retrieved 2008-02-21.
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Converters for Word 97". 2006. Unknown parameter |accessyear= ignored (|access-date= suggested) (help); Unknown parameter |accessmonthday= ignored (help)
  12. ^ "Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007 File Formats". 2006-11-06. Unknown parameter |accessyear= ignored (|access-date= suggested) (help); Unknown parameter |accessmonthday= ignored (help)
  13. ^ Such as WordSetter (shareware)
  14. ^ TidBITS : Word Up! Word 2004, That Is
  15. ^ Methods for restarting list numbering
  16. ^ Cognito Auto Sum

External links