It’s true, I’m no fan of Microsoft. Perhaps it’s the tactics they use to do business. Certainly it’s the invasion of user privacy they perpetrate with Windows 10 and their Office products. It was their insistence that a server needs a graphical interface. It’s absolutely the multitude of vulnerabilities in their software. As a private person, I said goodbye to the Microsoft universe in 2005. However, for work I still have Microsoft products inflicted upon me so I can say with certainty: I hate Microsoft Word!
It’s not that I’m an inexperienced user. Back when Office 95 was a thing, I trained people in using Microsoft Windows 95, Microsoft Office and the internet. I even wrote some of my own course material because the manuals were lacking. I showed people the wonders of automatic formatting, spell checking and mail merge wizards. Sure, it was clunky and sometimes it crashed but it was 1996 and back then software was clunky and prone to crashing. Ctrl + S was your best friend.
Fast forward to 2020 and software is no longer clunky and crashes are also mostly a thing of the past. The usability of most software has improved immeasurably since the days of Office 95. Not so with Microsoft Office. I’m not even talking about the infamous Ribbon which Microsoft thinks is better than a standard menu. So many blog posts and discussions have been written about that decision that I won’t waste a paragraph on it.
I hate Microsoft Word
I mainly use Microsoft Word and Microsoft PowerPoint these days. While the use (and abuse) of PowerPoint might be worth a post on its own, I want to talk about Word specifically. There’s just a couple of things that really make me hate the word processor.
Generally it’s annoying when software tries to be clever. Clippy is dead and buried (and should stay that way) but that doesn’t mean that Word has stopped trying to be smarter than me. Automatic formatting of text I enter is sometimes helpful but more often it’s an annoyance because it changes things in ways I didn’t want. Formatting multilingual documents is annoying too. No matter how many times I tell Word that a sentence is English, it insists it must be in Dutch, as if I wouldn’t know the difference.
Arguably the most powerful feature of Microsoft Word is the way you can define styles for your document and apply them throughout. Want to change the formatting of your headings? No problem, just update the style and all your headings will be updated to the new formatting. In theory. Sometimes, for reasons only known to Word, it decides not to update the formatting even if you’ve applied the right style. Any attempt to fix it will make matters worse, not better. Press Enter where Word doesn’t expect it and the next paragraph will use a different style.
Another example that will lead to much hair-pulling and gnashing of teeth is the automatic numbering of headings. Headings and subheadings will work fine, getting consecutive numbering. Inserting headings works smoothly too, with numbers updating as expected…until they don’t. Some alignment of the planets or a quantum fluctuation causes Word to decide that the next heading will be number 1 again. So you instruct Word to continue numbering from the previous heading but this will not work. Why? Nobody knows. So you set the number manually to what it is supposed to be. When it’s time for the next heading, can you guess what the next number will be? Obviously, it will be 2. Why? Because it was previously decided that the preceding heading was 1. No matter that you set it to 8. Continuing with the numbering will not help you, again.
Another reason why I hate Microsoft Word is the poor layout features. This is most apparent when you are working with images. No matter how careful you are, any attempt to position images where you want them only leads to calamity and frustration. You decide to move that image 1 cm to the right? You can’t. Word will decide that it looks much better on the next page. So you decide to move it back? You can but at the risk that Word will mess up the layout of your entire document. Not to mention how the addition of a single 50 Kb image will result in an inflation of the size of the document.
End of rant
I had to vent and get this off my chest. I’ve been exposed to Word a bit too much the last couple of days and had to deal with its sometimes unexpected and seemingly random behavior. So what is your major annoyance with Microsoft Word? Any reason that makes you hate it? Feel free to share it in the comments below. Remember, misery loves company!