Microsoft Word is 40 years younger and is here to make you feel old

There was a time when most people were not on Google Docs or Word. There was a time when school students of every grade thought the best way to make their essays look attractive was with flashy word art. There was a time when Microsoft Word was not developing Just another AI playground For Microsoft’s endless crusade Put a Generative Chatbot in Each of Your Apps,

You see, two days ago Microsoft Word turns 40 years old. The program came into existence on October 25, 1983, named “Multi-Tool Word” on the Xeni system, and later on MS-DOS and Macintosh. Heck, Microsoft even managed to bring Word to the Atari-ST. This was when it needed to compete against other text processing giants like WordStar and WordPerfect. Now that it sits comfortably within the Microsoft 365 suite of productivity tools, it has managed to Overtook its little brother WordPadIts use was first seen in Windows 95 about 30 years ago.

Word had to evolve to keep up with the competition, though Word 4.0 finally brought the program to the new-age Windows operating system in 1989. Believe it or not, Word was a selling point for the company’s OS. Microsoft released version 5.5 of Word for DOS which used the same interface as the Windows version. Then year 2000 problem reared its head, requiring Microsoft to release 5.5 for free on DOS only.

By the time Microsoft Word 95 arrived on Windows 95 and brought the Task Pane to users, we began to get a sense of the direction Microsoft would take its text suite. By 1997, Microsoft Word on Windows had taken over 90% of the word processing market. Later versions have forced integration with Microsoft’s cloud service OneDrive, and that’s where it snowballed into the current 365 ecosystem that tries to emphasize interoperability within Microsoft’s own walls.

If any of this is making you feel old, just remember that Microsoft Word – as it is now – has strayed significantly from its roots as a humble WYSIWYG application for creating text documents. For people who just want to create or format text documents, Word can feel quite bloated. There were days when Word did not require an internet connection and a Microsoft account to autosave.

There is much debate as to which version of Word was the best, whether it was the 2013 version that included Read Mode and advanced image editing, or the even earlier 2007 version that had tools grouped into tabs, or What the 2003 version gave us is essentially the same basic layout that we have today. Some even claim that 1993’s Word 6 is the premier version of the software, without all the unnecessary widgets and tabs cluttering the screen.

Even with the addition of the long-awaited dark mode in 2021, it’s hard to recommend Word first when there are so many free programs available online. This article is being written on Google Docs, and there’s no real need to boot up Microsoft’s own Word program. But if you want to go back in time, the Computer History Museum hosts source code For Microsoft Word for Windows 1.1.

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