Why Word

Cargo containerFuturism is a foolhardy enterprise. A century hence, when we are whiteboarding our DNA and laser projecting the bios of vague acquaintances onto our retinas, there are few things that are safe bets.  Up until now, I’d considered that Microsoft Word would be doomed to extinction as simpler, lighter – better – alternatives gained traction. That was because, like a fool, I’d misunderstood what Word actually is.

Somewhere along the way, I’d arrived at the prejudice was that it was simply a program used in the production of papery artifacts, designed to give them an aura of professionalism before they were offered up to the author’s boss, client or tutor.  I should have twigged a couple of years ago when I was CC’d into an  e-mail whose sole purpose was to direct attendees to the location of a meeting:

  • The mail contained a Word doc.
    • The Word doc contained a screen grab.
      • The screen grab contained a browser window.
        • The browser window contained an inappropriately scaled map.

I now realise the Word document is the shipping container of the world of work. Having it installed on your computer means you don’t have to jimmy the lock and avoids the raising of eyebrows, let alone a frown. It’s the suit and tie of document formats. Without it, you risk looking like an amateur careering through your wine order at the local Pizza Express.  Not to say I’ll ever install it on my own laptop but I’ve conceded in my mellow years that I will let it in the house 1.

The challenge I’ll enjoy Microsoft working to justify is the recurring expense of the thing every couple of years, i.e. how to incorporate innovations cherry-picked from elsewhere without obscuring its overriding usage as an electronic typesetting system and Jiffy bag.


1No, the FOSS versions are not yet close enough. Word is glitchy enough already without compounding quirks.

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