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Microsoft Word, an Odyssey

Microsoft Word, an Odyssey

Microsoft Word has been one of the most utilized software titles in the history of personal computing. Despite heavy competition, millions of people use it every day as their daily word processor. Today, we’ll take a look at the history of Microsoft Word, and how it has come to become such a powerful and popular software title.

Development
The first version of Microsoft Word, like many pieces of Microsoft Windows, could be characterized as “borrowed”. Bill Gates and the late Paul Allen, the founders of Microsoft, hired a pair of programmers that had previously developed Xerox Bravo, the first ever WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) word processor. The developers, Charles Simonyi and Richard Brodie released the first version of Word in 1983 for Xenix and MS-DOS operating systems. They followed with several new versions over the next few years, none of which were overly popular.

As Microsoft (and personal computing) grew in popularity, developers for other OS platforms began to build graphic user interfaces. Microsoft followed suit, releasing Microsoft Windows in November of 1985. After a few versions of Windows, Microsoft released the first GUI-run Word platform for Windows 3.0 in 1990. At the time, WordPerfect was the most popular word processing application on the market, but Corel (the developer of WordPerfect) didn’t produce a WordPerfect version for Windows 3.0. As a result, the 1991 version of Word, called WinWord 2.0, was a major success. Additionally, Word was developed for the rival Macintosh operating system. This proved to be advantageous as well. It was easily the second most utilized word processing program available for the Macintosh OS. This strategy led to more people using Word across multiple platforms than any other word processing program.

Microsoft Office
The Microsoft Office productivity suite is well regarded as the most dynamic productivity tool in modern computing. The first version of Microsoft Office was released in 1990. It consisted of the Word 1.1 word processor, the Microsoft Excel 2.0 spreadsheet program, and the Microsoft PowerPoint 2.0 presentation builder. At the time it was the most comprehensive enterprise productivity suite on the market for both PC and Mac.

One of its main competitors, Microsoft Works was also a productivity suite with a word processor, spreadsheet program, and presentation software, but it was marketed to individuals at a reduced price. It was discontinued in 2007 when Microsoft started offering the Office suite at a lower price point.

With Microsoft Office adding email capabilities in July of 1991, Microsoft Office became the go-to productivity suite for the business professional. Then came a new build of Windows, Windows 3.1, which was the industry-leading OS. By outpacing its competitors with their operating system, the Office platform was now entrenched as one of the main business software tools of the early 90s.

Word Innovation
As Microsoft continued to develop and release industry-leading software, Microsoft Word started to gain features. No longer was there interoperability between the Macintosh versions and the Windows versions of Word. When Windows 95 launched, so did Word 95. No longer available for Macintosh, Word 95 was the first Word product to be developed exclusively for Windows.

Word 97, introduced late in 1996, added Clippit (known as Clippy), which was an assistant as well as several new features, including new toolbars that provided a streamlined experience. It was also part of the first Office suite that included product activation, which would become the standard way to license software for much of the next two decades.

Word 2000 added HTML tools and the very first Internet-based collaboration features. Since there was a great deal of trepidation that software would have problems working in 2000, Microsoft was quick to release major patches, a trend that continues today. Subsequent versions of the software have made collaboration a major point of emphasis.

Word In the Cloud
Several years (and versions of Word) later, Microsoft decided that it was going to start providing access to their Office products, including Word, as a service. The platform first launched in June of 2011 and is now the most popular way that users utilize Word and other Office titles.

Originally aimed at only corporate users, new versions of Microsoft Office 365 have expanded the catalog by creating specific packages to fit certain types of users’ needs. Today, the cloud-based product is used by over a billion people worldwide and Microsoft is one of the largest and most important software companies in the world; and Word is, by far, the most important word processor on the market today.

If your business would like to learn more about the latest version of Word, and the enhanced collaboration tools provided in the Office 365 productivity suite, call the experts at Network Solutions Unlimited today at 217-428-6449.

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