"Microsoft Word is a tyrant of the imagination"


Mon, Oct 14th, 2013 10:00 by capnasty NEWS

On Charlie's Diary website, Charlie Stross argues that Microsoft Word must die, calling it a "tyrant of the imagination, a petty, unimaginative, inconsistent dictator that is ill-suited to any creative writer's use".

Over the late 1980s and early 1990s Microsoft grew into a behemoth with a near-monopoly position in the world of software. One of its tactics became known (and feared) throughout the industry: embrace and extend. If confronted with a successful new type of software, Microsoft would purchase one of the leading companies in the sector and then throw resources at integrating their product into Microsoft's own ecosystem, if necessary dumping it at below cost in order to drive rivals out of business. Microsoft Word grew by acquiring new subsystems: mail merge, spelling checkers, grammar checkers, outline processing. All of these were once successful cottage industries with a thriving community of rival product vendors striving to produce better products that would capture each others' market share. But one by one, Microsoft moved into each sector and built one of the competitors into Word, thereby killing the competition and stifling innovation. Microsoft killed the outline processor on Windows; stalled development of the grammar checking tool, stifled spelling checkers. There is an entire graveyard of once-hopeful new software ecosystems, and its name is Microsoft Word.



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