On Tuesday, I asked Gizmodo readers why they’re still using Microsoft Word. And a lot of people answered the call. Like, hundreds of people expressed some rather powerful opinions about the aging office tool — so many that I had to share some of the best.
Before we dig into readers’ thoughts and scoldings, let’s get one thing straight: Using Word is not always a voluntary thing. Despite the software’s recent security scares, it’s still the go-to word processor for a lot of companies and probably will be for years to come. In certain industries, like publishing, you’re basically laughed out the door if you deal in anything but .doc files.
In other words, being able to work with a cloud-based tool like Google Docs is often a privilege. Meanwhile, open source software like LibreOffice provides a user experience that’s damn close to Word, but that doesn’t matter if your employer won’t let you install it. All that said, some people still really, really like Microsoft Word. These are their stories.
Nick Foote says Word isn’t perfect, but it could be much worse:
Wow, do I have news for you. Literally everyone uses software they hate for work that is insecure and generally shitty. Word is arguably one of the least infuriating that I run into. Sure, technically Google Docs is an alternative, but receiving phishing emails designed to look like links to Google Docs is just as likely (if not more) as receiving a virus laden .doc file. Plus, if you work off a company file server, you can’t go uploading every file to Google Docs just to work on it, then export it back down to the server. A cloud editor just doesn’t work with most people’s workflows.
Anthony, a lawyer, writes:
Because my documents do look better in Word than in Google Docs. And, oh, I’m a lawyer so I don’t want my documents from my clients and for my clients on the cloud.
TheEvilAttorney, another lawyer, provides a bit more detail:
Adam, we get it. You require only a box to type some text into for your job. Some of us require a reliable word processor that can do much more, especially when you work in an environment like a law firm. Google Docs is way too simple for that. Word is great because it has complex track change options, styles, fields, document ID numbers assigned from SharePoint for tracking, drawing shapes, pictures (with basic pic editing), customisable paragraph/line numbering, highly customisable columns/breaks/orientation, table of contents, footnotes, macros to automate tedious tasks, and in-document drawing with a stylus (e.g., Surface Pro). Different folks require different tools for different jobs. Stop trolling. Besides, everyone knows that the good trolling was done on Gawker (RIP).
Realinfmom, who works in publishing, offers this specific reason:
As for why I use Word now, one of the things I do for a living is copy edit book manuscripts, and publishers want Word format. The best I could do was buy a copy of Office 2007. It reads and writes files from newer versions of Word and I have to put up with fewer annoyances. Plus it was sold in a 3-license pack, which MicroSquish doesn’t do any more, so my husband and son could have their own installations.
For serious writing I use Scrivener, and for collaborating with my colleagues I use Google Docs. It’s been months since I had to use Word for anything.
The Tin Foil Ninja Strikes Again! sounds like uses a lot of Word features you’ve never heard of:
As an IT Architect/Systems Admin: it plays nicely with every other Microsoft product we run. Most of all, everyone knows what word is and there’s very little training to do. That’s a biiiiiiiiiig one too for me.
SCCM Distribution and image packaging make it easy to replicate installs and deploy, has sharepoint and MS Web services integration, outlook integration, and there’s available APIs to resolve the discrepancy between versions. All data is kept in house which is huge for the companies I work for. Licensing is relatively easy as I run a licensing server to validate all installs. Also, macro support and support for in house plugins that are business critical.
GoLikeHellMachine is a sassy Gizmodo commenter:
I suppose it might come as a surprise to someone who works for a website that barely spellchecks, proofreads or formats their work, but believe it or not, Word does all of those things better than any of the competitors.
And finally, KinjaNinja explains a common situation very succinctly:
Because it’s the only approved word processing software at my employer.