A WORD USER AWAITS VERSION 3.0
Author: Jack Turner
Date: January, 1987
Keywords: microsoft word 3.0 macwrite
Text: Several months ago the long-awaited announcement came from Microsoft Corp. that their Word program for the Macintosh would be upgraded and improved considerably. Ever since the guy from Microsoft told us a bit about it on his visit last summer, this word handler has been eagerly awaiting the new version. First of all, I need to tell you a bit about how I use my computer. As a college English professor, I'd say that 90% of the time at my mouse is spent in wordprocessing. I do all my handouts and various professional writing using Word. MacWrite is simply just not powerful enough. When I first got my Mac, Word was not out yet. I suffered through the insufficiencies of MacWrite, but finally breathed a sigh of relief when the Microsoft product offered improvements in managing larger documents. Not only does Word offer features like footnoting totally absent from MacWrite, but the ability to manage up to four text windows on the screen at one time makes it possible for me to do the kind of writing and revising that I find necessary. But when Word comes out this month, it will offer the following improvements: 1) Long document support. Version 1.05 is fairly clumsy with longer documents. The new version promises improvements. 2) Improved output. 3) Keyboard expansion. The new program allows you to use the new keypad as a cursor mover, among other things. 4) Data exchange. You won't have to use Switcher to switch between Word and other Mocrosoft programs. 5) Page preview. Despite pretensions to WYSIWYG (''What you see is what you get''), Word in its present version does not really allow you to visualize easily how your document will look once it's printed. Microsoft promises to let us see how the thing will look, two pages at a time, without having to print it. 6) Increased speed. One of the problems with the present version of Word is that it is quite slow, especially when you are repaginating a large document. I understand that this is because the program is totally disk-based. In other words, the program writes much of your text to the disk rather than holding it in memory, even if you don't instruct it to save the text. This is why Word does not benefit from a RAM disk. I'm not sure HOW Microsoft plans to increase the speed, but they have promised they WILL. 7) Style sheets. You can set up a bunch of your favorite formats ahead of time and recall them at will. You can do that now, of course, by setting up exemplary Word documents and then using the ''Save As'' command. Apparently this will be easier with the new version. 8) Various levels of expertise. Word is a somewhat more complex (to a certain extent, that's what ''more powerful'' means) program to learn than MacWrite. The new version will allow you to start out at a simple level with a shorter menu and then advance two more levels to the most ''powerful.'' 9) Integrated outlining. I usually don't outline what I write ahead of time (though I hypocritically try to sell the practice to my students). But the new Word will allow you this capability if you want it. This will probably make it possible to shift back and forth between an outline and a document. If you've ever tried to outline using Word or MacWrite you have immediately gone out and bought an outlining program like ThinkTank. I guess you won't need that program any more unless, like me, you do your class lectures on it and need the many extras it offers. 10) An 80,000 word spelling checker. Spelling checkers are a dime a dozen, and there are some pretty good ones out there. I use Hayden Speller, because it works pretty well with Word 1.05. The main problem is that you've got to go completely out of Word to use the spelling checker. Another one is that you can't check a document of over a limited number of words. Also, Hayden Speller, likemost of the others, is pretty slim (35,000 to 40,000 words). You can, of course, add your own words to most of them. But having the checker inside of the program will be a real improvement, I figure. By the way, a spelling checker will not help you to be a great speller. Learn to spell, then use a checker. They're good mainly for typos. The new Word will cost a whopping $395 retail. If you've already got the version 1.05, however, you can upgrade for $99 (unless you bought it since 1 October 1986, in which case it's only $50). If you're a registered user, you should have received a mailer announcing the version 3.0. I predict that Word will remain the program of choice for the serious wordsmiths among us. Look for a review of the new version in these pages sometime after I've received my new version and used it for awhile.
Copyright © january, 1987 by Jack Turner