The Core Dump

A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures

[By Nic Lindh on Thursday, 26 February 2004]

The Word 6.0 nightmare

Back in the day, the best word processor on the market was Microsoft Word 5 for the Mac. It was sleek, it was fast, it was loaded with useful features, and it was infinitely customizable. Brilliant. Until OS X came out, relegating Word 5 to the Classic ghetto, it was my weapon of choice for word processing.

With Word 5 being such a great app, there was a lot of excitement when Word 6 came out–finally, feature parity with the Windows version! Scripting! PowerPC accelerated!

And of course, Word 6, released nine (9) months later for the Mac than for Windows, was buggier than a New York apartment with jelly-covered walls and gleefully violated every Mac human interface guide possible. It was the purest port of a Windows GUI to the Mac ever committed. Apart from nearly complete feature parity with the Windows version, it also sported bug parity. (I had a colleague at the time who, for reasons that escape me, went over the Windows and Mac versions of Word with a fine tooth comb and found, if I recall correctly, two minor discrepancies in the GUIs. The rest was identical.)

To further sweeten the pot, the retail box had a cheerful red sticker proclaiming “Accelerated for PowerPC.” Except when you opened the box there was a little note inside saying that no, actually, Word 6 was not “Accelerated for PowerPC,” but there would be an update Real Soon Now. Any day. Really.

Needless to say, customers were not thrilled.

Rick Schaut has posted an article about the decisions that went into unleashing Word 6 on unsuspecting Mac users. Very interesting reading.

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