back to article Microsoft tries to CTRL-W WordPerfect lawsuit again

Microsoft is asking the Supreme Court to strike-out a multi-billion dollar word processing monopoly lawsuit from Novell. Centered in court documents is WordPerfect, an ill-fated word processing suite that once controlled about 50 per cent of the market in 1990. Novell only owned the software title briefly. It purchased …


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  1. Chad H.

    poor business decisions?

    isn't microsoft's idea of a poor business decision by its competitors anything other than rolling over and playing dead?

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Let's hear it for the discovery process alone!

    Having used both WP and the "other" program since the DOS days (and virtually every incarnation since) I've a lot of sympathy with Novels position - the initial WP for Windows release was horrifically integrated into Windows ... to the point of being unusable - and lo and behold, as WordPerfect floundered ... 'orrible Office was released with (and I chose my words carefully here) "Turd for Windows" ... the programmatic workspace equivalent of Typhoid Mary ... with a bright smile and a chocolate prophylactic.

    Times have changed ... the current Corel WordPerfect is (and has been for many years) a joy to write with ... yet Word continues to be a festering sore on the arse of mankind. I use both on a regular basis - Word because I have to, and WordPerfect because I enjoy it ...

    I would love this lawsuit to come to court and see what else craws out from under the rocks in Microsoft ...

  3. Ben Ruset

    WP was Awful

    WP has always been a user-unfriendly package. From the days of WP 5.1 on through the Windows versions, it's always been harder to use than Office.

    Wordperfect was the dominant word processor, but they lost market share because Office was easier to use and offered more features. There's no reason that the GUI version of Wordperfect that was used in Win 3.1 would not have worked in Win95 anyway.

    I wish companies would try to write good, usable software instead of wasting money that could be put into development in a lawsuit.

  4. Johan Bastiaansen

    Bill's right

    I remember that.

    I was one of the WP-affecionados desperate to support the product, but unable to because Novell simply wasn't able to put out a release, any release, that ran under Windows 95.

    Who cared about browsing extensions? Who knows what they are? Lots of small software companies were able to port their software to W95. But somehow Novell wasn't? Perhaps the port wasn't perfect, but it was better to sit on your hands and waight untill your competitor grabbed the market.

    Novell bought WP and killed it with "poor business decisions" and "mismanagement". I hate to agree with Bill, but this time I don't have a choice.

  5. Mike

    Word Perfect is still in use

    People always laugh when I tell them that I use WordPerfect (version 13), and then they go... "Gee, I always liked WordPerfect better. I don't know why I use Word."

  6. Adam Cutchin

    What were they thinking?

    I think the very first problem was Novell's imagining that Microsoft would provide a stable, sensible and properly documented API for anything, ever. Much less a new piece of software in a new operating system.

    All the average customer cared about was that your app was 32 bit and used the new style controls and dialog boxes. Trying to tightly integrate into a bunch of beta software leaves you well exposed to have Microsoft stab you in the back. And if you were a direct competitor to any of their products they would, of course. Even in '94 I had the good sense to know that.

  7. Ian Michael Gumby

    @Adam Cutchin

    Microsoft is both the provider of the OS and a competitor in offering a competing product.

    Since Microsoft is a monopoly (meaning its been found to be a monopoly by the US courts), it must conduct itself in such a way that it doesn't favor its product development at the expense of others. Meaning acting in an anti-competitive way.

    On the surface, the Novell case has merit. As you point out, Microsoft acts in an anti-competitive way... ;-)

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    back in the good ol days...

    Pre-win95, of course, WP was down right user hostile, for those who hadn't had the good fortune to be trained on it. Even with the 'cheat-sheets' it was still somewhat a pain to work with.

    Now that it has a fairly captive market, Microsoft is free to stick it to its customers by muckinging up something as mundane as "Word". Personally, I hope the courts give Microsoft a thumbs down on their writ, because MS was dicking everybody around, when they were launching the 9x platform, including Novell and access to NetWare servers. But mainly, I just don't like the direction Word is going in.

  9. John Imrie
    Gates Horns

    Poor business decision

    Microsoft is right in calming that Novell scuppered WP by poor business decisions.

    The decision in question being to believe Microsoft

  10. Stuart Udall
    Gates Horns

    what has changed?

    Isn't this still happening today, in various guises? Aren't APIs still either protected, or constantly changing? I always thought it was due to either incompetence, or a desire to charge people to learn new ways to do old things... but now we learn it's to constantly trip up the competition...

  11. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

    Hmmm, Novell has few legs to stand on...

    The notion that Novell was somehow duped by Microsoft is, frankly, risible. At that time, Novell (not MS) had the dominant products in two fields: network servers, and word processing.

    So here Novell is acting all surprised that MS messed up their development plans... not once, but twice! (First when they pulled/changed/whatever the shell extensions thing -- hardly critical to a word processor, but nevermind -- and then again when they re-instated them). The fact is that Novell _could_ have released a version of WP 5.1 that lacked any kind of shell extensions, and if they decided they needed them, then the effort they made to work around the lack of documentation doesn't magically cease to work when MS re-released to docs.

    MS is right: Novell screwed WP -- or rather, WP screwed WP and sold themselves in a screwed state to Novell, who were themselves screwed up in their own special way.

    Think about it: is it a coincidence that both Netware and WP stalled for as long as they did?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    So love

    Got no love for a company that wont genuinely win or loose a competition. Reminds me of the Gladiator movie. Before the final battle the Emperor sticks the gladiator with a knife to limit his ability to defend himself. I never cheered so hard in my life when I saw the crowed cheer when he still lost and his guards just left him laying in the dirt! I will cheer just as hard when M$ collapse from mounting bad karma... Every year I feel more and more sure this will happen. Eventually the money and bullying wont save them.

  13. Micha Roon

    Glimmer of hope

    An organization usually looks like its leaders. In M$'s case: unwashed, unimaginative and arrogant.

    But now that Billy has quit, there is a glimmer of hope that the business practices will change. It will take time. But maybe, just maybe, they will start to compete on quality instead of sheer brute force.

    We would all gain from such a move and M$ more than the others. Because releasing quality software will give them a real advantage which they won't have to challenge in court all tht time.

  14. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Fully Justified ....... and way ahead of the Game?

    "But the software giant claims Novell's particular case is unjustified because Novell wasn't selling an operating system at the time, and therefore, not in direct competition."

    Actually, that is a totally and probably intentionallly misleading erroneous suggestion as a word processing suite IS an Operating System and the Prime of any Operating System. And it is always ITs Primary Driver too.

    And even today, Control of Words/Knowledge is the Power which Guarantees Control....... which is why Beta Use of them is Monitored and in some cases rather than being Shared, snaffled and hidden away until such times as they are not so revealing.

    Just ask anyone who is into Mastery of the Universe and Global Operating Devices via ITs Virtualisation Channels.

    All Engines, Full Speed ahead, Cap'n ........ into NeuReality Virtually ...... AIDomains and the Semantic Territory of Imperfect Dominion and ITs Universal Control.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    WordPerfect destroyed their own market through shit software. Funny how they don't mention Lotus was able to provide SmartSuite for Windows at the same time. WordPro was a fully functional word processor as good as anything from either Microsoft or WordPerfect. Admittedly Lotus couldn't deliver a 32-bit version of 1-2-3 on time but then Microsoft could with with Access either -- Office 95 did not have Access as a 32-bit program until winter of 1995. All Novell is doing is special pleading for events that happened over a decade ago hoping to get cash out of Microsoft, which they probably need given they destroyed their own NetWare product, too.

    PS: I assume then that the end of Microsoft will come at or about the time the likes of other monopoly capitalists like Wal-Mart, Exxon-Mobil and News Corporation also go bust? You may find you have a very long wait but good luck with your wishful thinking. PS: "Money and bullying" will save them as money and power are indivisible. No wonder all these pigopolists have such an easy time when confronted with chumps that think like this.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: lazy Novell

    "Lots of small software companies were able to port their software to W95. But somehow Novell wasn't?"

    "The fact is that Novell _could_ have released a version of WP 5.1 that lacked any kind of shell extensions"

    Isn't it great to know that so many commentators here have intimate knowledge of how easy it is to port a major software package when the libraries you rely on get pulled at the last minute with no warning? Bodes well for the industry. Of course, they could just be too ignorant to have any idea what the problems are, and be relying on that old maxim of Dilbertesque managers, "If I don't understand it, it's trivial." But that hardly seems likely, does it?

  17. Mr Larrington
    Paris Hilton

    Eh? Wot?

    So was it Microsith's spell checker or WP's that allowed the word "Octover" into the graphic in the original story?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Me next!!

    I'm a manufacturer of slate writing tablets. I'm going to sue microsoft because their being anti-competitive to my business.

    Come to think of it, I'll sue typewriter manufacturers, and those early 'electronic type writers' (aka word processors), and come to think of it, I'll sue all the electric companies for making it all possible.

    Get over it people, Darwin was (nearly) right - survival of the one with the biggest advertising budget.

    If your software doesn't sell, you need to look inwards first, and only blame other people to cover the truth!

  19. Jez Caudle
    Gates Horns

    Word Perfect was already going down hill

    I remember using Word Perfect under Windows 3.0 and it was impossible to use c1991. So much so that my boss at the time would not use Windows at all and used MS-DOS just so he could write things up.

    The rest of us in the office used Letter Perfect, a stripped down version of WP that ran under DOS. It had a graphical viewer for print previewing that was alot more accurate than the DOS screen. Being stripped down you could use it for it was designed for - writing simple manuals, letters, faxes and memo's. We don't have memo's any more!!

    I think this is the point that WP started to loose market share. They got too big for their boots and though that they could release any old sh!te and get away with it. The version of Office for Windows 3.11 was far superior and popping up in more and more places in the following years.

    This is probably why MS decided to knife WP at a very critical point and leave the field clear for themselves. I hope MS looses big time. Their Office suite is just bloat - megabytes of unneeded rubbish getting in the way of producing documents. I would rather use VI.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Anonymouse Coward Re:Lazy Novell

    > "Bodes well for the industry. Of course, they could just be too ignorant to have any idea what the problems are, and be relying on that old maxim of Dilbertesque managers, "If I don't understand it, it's trivial." But that hardly seems likely, does it?"

    Seems like you yourself may be the seething boil on the face of the industry. Yes I'm a manager but I've been coding since I was 10 and it's a well recognized fact that well structured, well written code is easier to maintain, easier to port etc etc. Products should be abstracted at least to some level from the target OS (unless you 0WN the OS too!) and the fact that many fledgling products survived onto W95 and some didn't says a lot about business and software architecture decisions in these products.

    I have some sympathy for Novell but limited because they perhaps made their own bed and took a sleep at the wrong time.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Word far from perfect back then...

    While I agree that the latest version of Word is THE word processor, back then (when the DOS prompt wasn't a skill, but a necessity), Word Perfect was what everyone used (emacs doesn't count people!).

    Had wordperfect had the opportunity to grow under Novell, there is no reason it couldn't be at the same level that Word is today. Well, assuming Novell hadn't off-loaded it to Corel to mess up anyway...

    I thought Novell and Microsoft had a love tie-in to prevent such lawsuits anyway?

  22. Anonymous Coward

    Quiet, gentlemen! We are entering the Windosphere!

    What the frack are "shell extensions"? Are they hard, pointy things?

  23. David Murphy

    What about Os/2

    Nobody has mentioned yet the wrong-footed way WP got sent over OS/2, during the Win vs OS/2 in the early 90's which sent WP down the wrong path to begin with, after that they always seemed to be playing catchup in the race to Win95. Also WP were definitely going down the tubes fast when Novell brought them for close to a billion, they should have correctly only paid about $400 million for the company at the time they did buy them. A little Utah valley friends helping Utah valley friends out in that purchase price.

    That said Novell should have been wiser in their dealing with M$, given all the back stabbing that had gone on before. I wonder what might have come of it all if Ray Noorda had not been diagnosed with Alzhemers about the same time. It had to have been affecting his decisions.

    I always liked WP, much more intuitive to use than Word, and OpenOffice is only coping a lousy word processor too.

  24. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    @Anonymouse Coward Re:Lazy Novell

    If Novell can show that MS *timed* the change so as to give Office an advantage then that might be a breach of monopoly laws: using a monopoly in one area in order to acquire one in another. Novell's business decisions don't come into it.

    On the other hand, I think I have to agree with Pie Man that a word processor should not be inextricably entwined with a user shell or web browser anymore than a web browser should be inextricably intertwined with an OS. When MS claimed they couldn't pull IE out of Windows we all said "well you bloody well ought to be able to".

    Fact is, the Windows shell interfaces have always been a moving target. Even if MS hadn't changed things between the final beta and the actual 95 release, any program that attempts to closely integrate with the shell still required surgery before it would run on NT4, Win98, Win2K, WinXP and Vista. (We make such a product. There's a guy about fifteen feet from where I'm typing who does the surgery. And yes, isolation/abstraction is the key.)

  25. Tim Lewis
    Dead Vulture

    @ Ben Ruset

    Ben - I rather suspect that you never had to use Word or WordPerfect on DOS. WordPerfect was an infinitely better product than Word hence the reason its market share was so high.

    As for the rest of the comments blaming Novell for it's demise - you're probably spot on, it was a great shame that Word now dominates. In my opinion it still doesn't handle tables as well as WordPerfect or AmiPro - the Lotus SmartSuite wp.

    For the rest of the comments blaming Novell for dragging this up again, should really read the story - at least the first paragraph! Here it is "Microsoft is asking the Supreme Court to strike-out a multi-billion dollar word processing monopoly lawsuit from Novell."

  26. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Without Hearts and Minds Control, IT is just Tool for Abuse

    "What the frack are "shell extensions"? Are they hard, pointy things?"

    In this particular context, they are as full of promise as any Viagran pointy thing ..... a real enough thing but only of any use when artificially supported..... and therefore of no lasting benefit.

    Oh dear ....... I hope that doesn't transfer literally into the Board Room? That would be depressing.

  27. Mountford D

    Novell are bad managers

    For proof of this, look at the way SuSE us being handled just now. It wouldn't surprise me if SuSE fades away into obscurity in the coming years just like WordPerfect did.

  28. Hans Mustermann
    Thumb Down

    Very little sympathy for WordPerfect, sorry

    Look, I'm against MS as much as anyone else, but I have actually used and (misguidedly) tried to persuade other people to use it. The DOS text-mode version was ok. The transition to Windows was just short of a complete pile of crap.

    The Windows version didn't seem to really understand such concepts as a WYSIWYG, discoverability, allowing users to develop and use common skills across applications, etc. In fact, I dare say that WP for Windows was the original case of WYSIWTF.

    Such concepts as using DDE or later OLE to deal with foreign formats was also one thing that every nerd was trying to fight off back then too, and IIRC WordPerfect missed that too. Well, guess what? "OMG, embedding videos in text files is dumb" wisecracks are easy, but people actually appreciated embedding any random format of a picture or diagram without worrying about buggy converters or whether such converters exist at all.

    Briefly, they had their DOS version, and tried to just port that to Windows. Badly.

    Let's face it, while MS _is_ a monopolist, and should pay for any wrongs they did, you don't go from market leader to nobody in free fall, unless your product does suck by comparison.

    WordPerfect had a _tremendous_ amount of mind share and brand recognition, while Word was relatively the upstart. Plus everyone already had a ton of documents in WP format, clients sending them documents in WP format, etc. People are willing to forgive a lot of minor flaws of WP or minor advantages of Word, in that kind of a situation. It's normally a slow and painful decline, if at all. To lose them hand over fist requires a major screw-up. And IMHO WordPerfect for Windows was just that: a major screw-up.

  29. Joe

    @ Ken Hagan

    "There's a guy about fifteen feet from where I'm typing who does the surgery. And yes, isolation/abstraction is the key."

    Does that mean you stick him in a room all by himself? ;)

  30. Anonymous Coward

    WordPerfect SGML version

    I remember around the time going down to Novell to look at their new version (I think it was 6.1) which had been made SGML savvy. This was word processing done right - the document was created and saved as an SGML file, with a mapping between the elements in the DTD and graphical markup. The layout and the content were truly kept apart, yet the software enabled the user to enter and edit the document via the familiar interface.

    It never made it to market - Novell were too busy dropping the ball.

  31. This post has been deleted by its author

  32. Alistair
    Gates Horns

    @ amanfromMars

    "as full of promise as any Viagran pointy thing ..... a real enough thing but only of any use when artificially supported..... and therefore of no lasting benefit"

    So you haven't tried the little blue pills yet?

  33. Mark

    @Stuart Udall

    "Aren't APIs still either protected, or constantly changing?"

    Well, how are API's protected? Patent doesn't apply to an API. And copyright isn't protecting it either. It certainly isn't patent. And if it's a trade secret, then that proves MS is leveraging their OS monopoly to become a monopoly in other areas.

    As to constantly changing, that is either the same boat as all others are a part of (since the OS changes under all of them with the same amount of warning) or the API producer MS (OS Division) is being anti-competitive by withholding API information from competitors to MS (Applications Division). Again illegal for a monopoly. It doesn't help a non-monopoly become a monopoly either, since applications writers won't write applications using your new spiffy API because the cost/benefit ratio isn't right. For a monopoly, the cost is irrelevant: you MUST supply to the monopoly product.

    Think about how many people say they DON'T write drivers for Linux because the kernel API isn't fixed? Linux isn't a monopoly, so the cost of rewriting isn't worth it.

  34. Dominic (The Pimp) Connor

    WordPerfect was a shit product.

    Microsoft may have played dirty on WP, but let us not kid ourselves that WP was nice to it's customers. It was also very expensive, and not exactly friendly.

    The Windows versions were outstandingly crap bits of s/w. Not because of MS., but because WP was a "business" not a technology firm and thus did not hire smart people or listen to the mediocrities it employed.

    A firm the size that WP was could have hired people to get round these issues, back in those days I made good money myself that way. WP didn't.

    It did however make sure its senior execs got really good golf.

    Remember the scary DOS box arrangement ?

    People these days flatly refuse to believe me when I tell them how viciously user hostile WP was. It survived because it had early market share it's crappy interface meant that large firms were reluctant to abandon their investment.

    But WP eventually drove people away. No firm is going to retrain 2000 people because of browsing issues in Windows 95, they did it because users regarded WP as punishment, not productivity.

    Frankly if MS had heavies break the legs of WP executives rather than a little half hearted documentation jab, I would have paid money to go and watch, not convicted them.

    Win 95 was never a leader in the corporate market that WP infested, so the idea that this killed WP is just silly.

  35. James Pickett


    IIRC, the original MS antitrust defence legal team all used WP, as it was a favourite tool for lawyers. I also recall that Word came in for some flak in another court case, because it couldn't produce accurate word counts, and some legal submissions have to be a certain length.

    The change of fortunes for WP was very rapid - I remember when it was pre-eminent. 5.1 was wonderful...

  36. Tim Strutt Silver badge
    Gates Horns

    A Time Before Windows

    I was specifying software around the time that Windows 3.1 came out. The dominant word-processors were WordPerfect for clerical types and WordStar for tech-people. The spreadsheet we all used was Lotus 1,2,3. The database was dBase.

    Within a very few years all of them were circling the drain, and the stuff that Microsoft had bought or glued their GUI to was dominant. I recall chats with tech support for most of these competitor companies - They all sometimes mentioned their difficulties with getting a working, stable specification out of Microsoft. By the time Windows 95 came out they were all pretty much history - This may not be a coincidence.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dear Drum D

    To those that say WP was hard to use I ask....what the hell are you talking about?

    For the past four years I have, not by choice, used Word 2003. TO this day reveal codes in WORD stinks. Set up a table, decide you need another 5 or 6 rows and oops....WORD only allows one row at a time to be added. Isn't that special.

    For thirty years my wife has been an admin person. Several years ago her office went to Word. She works for an accounting office that prepares complicated docs. It was an absolute nightmare and every one hated the transition. To get the same work done people had to take classes about WORD. Things that could be done quickly and efficiently by any newbie using WP. Not so with WORD.

    Yes, WORD has it over on WP if you are a techie that uses WORD for it's Internet ready stuff. But that points out the problem of how and why everything is tied to software writers only writing for IE (MS products). And that comes close to why WP is suing. The monopolistic measures of MS.

    I would lay money on the table for this wager:

    Give someone that never used WORD or WP a document to put together, some tables, equations, etc. and see how long it takes them to do it using each program. I would take the wager that WP would take less time for that newbie to complete the work.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Dear Drum D

    If WORD is such a great program for complicated documents why then do 90% of the attorneys (those folks that make complicated docs) use WP? At least in the USA.

  39. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    Ain't I pleased...

    I just use LaTeX (and emacs of course), but then I need to use equations a lot. Ever tried to AUTOMATICALLY number equations in MS-Word and refer to them, and have the reference AUTOMATICALLY updated if you insert new equations half-way in order to meet reviewers requirements. It may well be possible in MS-Word, but I could not find it (WP I avoided like the plague).

    I actually did like MS-Word 2.0, but that was only until I learnt LaTeX, and until a colleague found out that after more than 128 equations the equation editor would not work anymore. This was a feature, not a bug according to the MS help line, After all, who needs more than 128 equations (apart from a student writing his PhD).

  40. Robert Long

    For God's sake

    Just use TeX and output to PDF.

    Seriously, TeX handles tables better than Word. And page breaks. Line breaks too, come to that. And it's easier to handle stylesheets in TeX and running headers are much more flexible and useful while indexes and cross referencing are easier. And so on... Plus it works in about 32K of RAM on every platform known to Man, and you can edit in text mode over a ssh connection on a modem if you have to. And, like I say, full PDF output has been available for at least a decade.

    And you say you're still using Word? Get real!

  41. b4k4

    @imposter from mars

    I don't think a man from mars wrote that, because I could understand what he was writing.

  42. Anonymous Coward

    WP was crap

    My school's IT department were still insisting we use WP and Paradox from 1996-1998 when I was doing my IT GCSE. After much, much persuasion, the school eventually bought 2 Office licences so that the two of us that knew more than the IT teachers could actually come up with interesting VBA-based projects. When word got round at school, most of the other kids (and some parents) immediately demanded that they get to use some half-decent software, compatible with what was on their home PCs as well, and the IT department were browbeaten into dropping WP and Paradox virtually overnight.

  43. John Foster

    Woid Poifect

    Word Perfect 10 still allows adding/deleting particular codes.

    This is still a Microsoft Office free zone over here, in spite of receiving assorted .DOC files in e-mail messages. What's wrong with plain text??

    I'm thinking of returning Word Perfect 6 files from my DOS machine.

    I'm not ... repaginating the whole word document ... after making a small change.

    not ... repaginating the word document

    not ... repaginating the word document

    not ... repaginating the word document

    not ... repaginating the word document

    not ... repaginating the word document

    not ... repaginating the word document

  44. Steven Guenther
    Gates Horns

    why no dot net

    There must be a reason nobody writes commerial shrink wrap software in .Net

    We all have learned that Bill will move the foundation on you.

    If you are building a tower, and the landlord says to move it over a foot when you are half done, will you ever get it built?

    I did a lot with WP4.2. I saw a lot of companies die on win95 update.

  45. John Foster

    The first thing we do is kill all of the lawyers

    Back in the days of Word Perfect 6 for Windows 3.11, it was easy to install. It was so easy that many law firms would buy one copy ... and plaster it on all of their computers. Novell/Wordperfect should sue the law firms instead.

    No wonder Word Perfect didn't make any money, even after designing paragraphs, footnotes and citations to be easily used by the Legal Industry.

    I agree that the Novell version was a ruined piece of software, but even the new Corel version doesn't always work and play well with others.

  46. Austin Troxell

    @A/C Re: Dear Drum D

    The reason so many U.S. attorneys still use WP is that they crafted their original templates eons ago using WP with its nice macro-creation features. Re-creating those macros in Word is not a task for the faint-of-heart.

    Today's attorney (In the U.S.) needs to learn about e-Discovery, keep up with changes in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the new Federal Rules of Evidence, legal ramifications of HIPAA, GLBA, SOx, SB 1386 (if you do "bidness" in Cauliflowernia)....

    And you want them to port and debug their trusty macros to Word?


    BTW, for you trivia buffs: Those popular keyboard short-cuts many of us love from DOS-days, such as "CTRL-B", "CRTL-C", "CTRL-V", et al, all originated in... WordSTAR!

  47. TeeCee Gold badge

    From what I recall it all goes back further than that.

    For me, at the time, the deal breaker with WP in the Great Move To Windows was that they were trading on the massive user base of the DOS product. Someone, somewhere in their organisation made the extremely half-arsed call that it had to be keystroke compatible with the DOS version and this would sell it as avoiding retraining costs.

    The upshot was that once you were used to the way that the keyboard worked in Windows, firing up WP 4 Win was like being transported to a different planet. We said at the time that you could spot a casual WP 4 Win user by the mallet on their desk and the endless supply of keyboards they went through. This, coupled with the fact that the GUI menus were a work of Byzantine complexity as you were expected to use the shortcut keys and that it integrated into the Windows print spooler in much the same way as chavs integrate into polite society made it sh1t of the first order. The clamour for us to ditch it and move to something / anything else where I worked at the time was deafening. The only people who were even remotely interested in it were the secretaries who knew WP inside-out and they wanted the DOS version back(!)

    Once they'd found the WP compatibility setting in Word, even the diehards wanted to switch.

    Now, all this was well pre-95 of course. But by the time '95 turned up, Word was ensconced and nobody even considered the possibility of swapping back. The boat left in the DOS to Win transition and WP missed it.

    It's entirely possible that MS may have resorted to dirty tricks to discourage the product. Nothing would surprise me less. However, if they did they wasted a lot of time and effort IMHO.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fond memories

    I remember WordPervert well - I used versions 5.0 and 5.1 for DOS, and 5.2 for Windows. Version 5.2 was the end of the line in two important respects - it was the last incarnation of a totally independent WordPerfick and is still the latest release of the (almost) fully translated UK English version with not a center, color or maneuver in sight in the manual, key overlay or screen display. (Shame about the disks.)

    I still use 5.2 because it (a) works, (b) permits other applications to run simultaneously, (c) is available in my native language.

  49. Killian

    Re: WP was crap

    "... most of the other kids (and some parents) immediately demanded that they get to use some half-decent software..."

    always encouraging to hear that the best qualified people are making the IT decisions...

  50. Graham Bartlett

    @Tim Lewis

    You seriously reckon WP for DOS was *good*?!

    Yes, once you'd learnt every keyboard shortcut, it was fast to use. But hey, if you learn every keyboard shortcut for Word, that's also equally fast to use - and Word let you customise your keyboard shortcuts to match WP keyboard shortcuts. Before you'd learnt the keyboard shortcuts though, WP had a UI that was apparently borrowed from edlin and never returned. In the useability stakes, it was as close to absolute zero as makes no difference.

    WFW was such a quantum leap forward from WP for DOS, it's almost impossible to describe. Suddenly you could see what you were writing, and do proper layout adjustment instead of going endlessly round the "move it a bit - preview - move it a bit more - preview" loop.

    Had WPW been around sooner, it still might have made it. But WFW was on version 2 before WPW hit the streets.

    WP was crap, and WPW was late. By any commercial standard, these spell disaster if your competition is even halfway competent, and MS Word has always been competent (there's a reason why Word has consistently been subsidising everything else MS do).

    Oh, and re the AC saying that Word only lets you add one row/col at a time, I can only say RTFM, or try a bit harder. Go to the last row/col of your table, and guess what? you get an option to add rows/cols, where you can enter exactly how many new rows/cols you want.

    There was *nothing* that could be done "quickly and efficiently" by a WP newbie.

  51. Luther Blissett

    @ Novell haters

    I wonder how many of you were there?

    At the time of WP 5.1, the first Windows port, there were also other GUI ports of WP ongoing. I saw 3 of these run side by side, performing the same operations on the same document. There was a visible difference in the display update speed. The Display Postscript version on Next was far and away the fastest. The Windows version was the dog which wouldn't hunt. It was also clearly (and painfully so) slower than Word on comparable operations. There can only be two explanations. Either the Windows porting team was totally incompetent, or they did not have access to fast display routines - routines that Word on Windows appeared to be using. Since the management could see their 3 ports of WP, the incompetence charge can't stick - if something could have been done, it would have been. Windows APIs change - frequently - precisely to screw the competition by making them play catch-up. Once the M$ product is in the market, the APIs get published, as the game no longer depends on technical advantage but on marketing clout. This is precisely what happened - eventually the display APIs got published, the playing field was put back to level, and WP in Windows became usable, but M$ had already made their end run around it. Anyone need a lesson in M$ marketing?

    Ok, a quick one. WP Corp had seen the way the wind was blowing out of Seattle. How M$ had put code in DOS to catch and slug Lotus. How M$ had killed Aldus' word processor, which had at least a 6 months lead on Word, by announcing Word would come out next month - it didn't, and couldn't, because it didn't even exist as a Win 3 product. I guess that is why WP Corp sold up to Novell. Again you may remember Novell were the leaders in networking at the time, and I guess they thought they had the clout to take on M$ even knowing full well how the Beast operated.

    I maintain WP was always superior to Word from the engineering pov. The decision by Word's designers (not M$ BTW - they bought it in if you remember, like so many other things) to put formatting information in effectively a separate fork in the file, and run it in and out of memory produced quicker file read and write times, but is only any use for a kiddies' word processor that never has to format more than a couple of pages, and a poor one for anything with long document and/or DTP pretensions. (Your code ends up spending most of its time in malloc() and who said something about garbage collection? Don't you know how that's going to impact the user experience?). And as Mr Coward pointed out above, WP's file format needed only a trivial (5 minute) change to accommodate SGML and XML markup. Contrast that, if you will, with M$'s shenanigans over XML - new file format, OOXML, etc.

    On days when not just the sky is grey, but the trees, fields and houses also, I think the quality metrics for software are inverted in proportion to the perceived market for it.

  52. Stephen Bungay

    Bad Business Decisions....

    The bad business decision was making a deal with M$.

  53. Anonymous Coward

    @ Killian

    "always encouraging to hear that the best qualified people are making the IT decisions..."

    You didn't know our IT teachers. My mother (herself in IT) used to look forward to Parents' Evening so that she could publically rinse the head of IT for his lack of knowledge and foresight...

  54. Anonymous Coward

    New feature sighted in Word!

    "Suddenly you could see what you were writing, and do proper layout adjustment " Graham Bartlett

    When is this version of Word coming out?! That's great news, because the world is full of people who would shell out serious money for a version of Word which allows proper layout adjustment instead of the joke layout facilities it's had for the last decade and more.

  55. Jay
    Thumb Down

    to the anon. table whinny guy

    If you want to insert 4 rows into a word table, omg, hold on, highlight 4 rows and then insert and you will have 4 rows. Wow, so much harder than editing reveal codes to add more rows. Sounds like html no a word pro.

  56. Anonymous Coward

    @Anonymous Coward re @ Killian

    "My mother (herself in IT) used to look forward to Parents' Evening so that she could publically rinse the head of IT for his lack of knowledge and foresight..."

    Just what the world needed... A know-it-all parent trying to tell the school administrators how to do their jobs with out knowing jack about the school's policies, setups, etc. And people wonder education is a mess.

  57. OpenSorce Phreak
    Gates Horns


    Being a "PFY", I was still in grade school when this "mismanagement" occurred, and had no idea that this was even an issue! It truly vexes me that Bill Gates would actively make that decision in his software, knowing full well that in such a scenario it would destroy the competition.

    Someday Bill Gates will personally pay for every cheap "Rockefeller tactic" that he used to suffocate healthy compeition and R&D. I shudder to think of his demise....

  58. Hans Mustermann

    @Luther Blissett

    "There was a visible difference in the display update speed. The Display Postscript version on Next was far and away the fastest. The Windows version was the dog which wouldn't hunt. It was also clearly (and painfully so) slower than Word on comparable operations. There can only be two explanations. Either the Windows porting team was totally incompetent, or they did not have access to fast display routines - routines that Word on Windows appeared to be using. Since the management could see their 3 ports of WP, the incompetence charge can't stick - if something could have been done, it would have been."

    I'll call bull. I'd believe that there were some magical MS-only drawing API's, and that everything else was slow, if I hadn't been programming Windows stuff at the time.

    You didn't _need_ any hidden API's to freakin' draw a screen of _text_.

    And it wasn't only Word that could update its screen fast enough. Probably not many people remember most of those nowadays, but back then there was a plethora of editors, IDE's, drawing programs, spreadsheets, etc. Everyone and their grandma was making one. And blimey, noone except Novel had that problem.

    AmiPro or Lotus 1-2-3 for windows were plenty fast, for example. I don't think Star Office (the original one, before the Sun purchase) had a problem either. Neither did Borland's IDE's, which, you know, drew and updated full screens worth of text too. Corel too never had a speed problem on Windows, with the sole exception of when they tried to port their stuff to Java.

    So, yes, the first explanation nails it dead-on, then: _someone_ at Novel must have been totally incompetent.

    Yes, I know it's fashionable to blame MS for everything, but let's be serious for a moment in this case. If it were _only_ MS who can draw fast in Windows, ok, I'd swallow it. But when it's, in fact, only Novel who can't get their crap to run fast enough, sorry, blaming MS already stinks.

  59. jbh001

    Do we need a history lesson?

    WP got it's marketshare by providing a better product than the competition.

    MS crushed WP by:

    1. Forcing Word to be bundled on new PCs.

    2. Practically giving Word away (I remember seeing versions for $35 at the time).

    3. Using undocumented APIs that made MS's products fast, while providing competitors alternate APIs that were as agile as molasses.

    Novell had the misfortune to be the one holding the bag when MS struck. MS used tactic #2 against Netscape, Lotus 123, Real Player, and QuickTime. They succeeded because they had a captive audience due to the OS. Tactic #2 hasn't been as useful against PlayStation and Nintendo (i.e. xbox), or against the iPod (i.e. Zune). They tried it against Adobe on the font front, but Adobe had enough resources to draw a stalemate (i.e. OpenType) instead of getting defeated.

    As for language localizations, my version of WP 11 allows me to select US-English, UK-English, Canadian-English, and Australian-English. Why do you say that this localization hasn't been available since version 5.1/5.2?

  60. David A. Smith
    Gates Horns

    ‘Microsoft tries to CTRL-W WordPerfect lawsuit again’

    I have been a WordPerfect user since version 4.1 for DOS back in 1985 and I thought it was far superior over any other word processor back then. It was pretty easy to use and had a great spell checker and thesaurus plus excellent call up support. I think WordPerfect 6.2 for DOS was the BEST version of all incorporating WYSIWYG and extended key macro capability, which no word processor of today seems to have. I have used MS Word and found it awkward to use after using WordPerfect. The Delete key didn't erase from the right of the cursor like in WordPerfect among other things.

    However, I think Microsoft has to understand that this is a big world we live in and they can't be the only software business in this word fulfilling every computer users needs. Just like GM can't be the only car manufacturing business in the world or the USA. Taking other businesses to court just because there product offers better features than yours is idiotic and really makes you look bad as a business man. With all the money that Microsoft now has, why don't they put it to good use and develop an Operating System that can actually manage memory without leaving memory holes behind, and resistant to viruses? There's so much that Microsoft could improve in there own products and yet they are always ready to take the other business to court over small matters that don't really matter. Microsoft has their own "High Performance" file system format, called NTFS, which no other operating system but Microsoft's can successfully write files to and yet no other business has took them to court over it. This doesn't make sense.

    I say the court should drop this case and let Novel and Corel go about their own business with whatever they want to do with WordPerfect.

    David Smith

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