back to article Gates: Novell are sore losers, Word trounced WordPerfect

Hard work and the competition's ineptitude saw Microsoft Word thump WordPerfect, Bill Gates told a US court hearing the $1bn anti-competition case brought by Novell. Gates told a court in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Monday that his Redmond minions "worked super-hard" on Word. He added: "It was a ground-breaking piece of work, and …


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  1. disgruntled yank

    don't know

    I don't know about any technical shenanigans. However, I do recall that WordPerfect 6, the first one written for Windows, was pretty bad. I am not a fast typist, and I could get ahead of the cursor.

    1. Kirbini

      I was teaching WP at the time. WP was more efficient, more feature complete and an all around better word processor on every front. The only reason WP6 ran so badly on Win95 is because MS wanted it to.

      Word chewed through memory and had a binary that was nearly 10x as fat as WP so it's not really feasible that given an even playing field Word would perform better. MS killed WP because they owned the platform and leveraged it to make their software appear better.

      Google "IE integration" for another example of this behavior.

      1. Ye Gads

        Horse pukky

        As the author says, Word had overtaken WordPerfect in 1994, before Windows 95 came out. So the timing doesn't make any sense. Also, Wordpefect started to go downhill when it was ported to Windows. WordPerfect 5.1 for Windows had to be installed in Dos and was unstable. It took them a year to release a stable version for Windows.

        WordPerfect also suffered from being bought by Borland in 93 so it could create a "Borland Office", which was a collection of non-integrated applications. Borland then sold to WP to Novell in 94 and then Novell sold it to Corel in 96. That's not what I'd call a stable working environment and during this time not a lot of work was done on integrating the applications. MS spent quite a bit of time doing this.

        Where MS did strike a blow against WP was when they started getting the OEMs to pre-install Word on retail Windows PCs. While WP was still doing well in the retail market this move pretty much ended their success here.

        Yes, MS did win. But they didn't use dirty tactics against WP. They didn't need to.

        1. Tom 13

          Pure FUD. WP 5.1 was perfectly stable under all versions of DOS

          and even Windows 3.x. I know, I used both of them at the time and WP was the superior program. WP6.0 for Windows was crap, but as the other posters indicated, that was because MS used undocumented APIs in their programs. WP 6.1 was stable and still better than Word. Yes I am emphatic and bitter on this one because I depended on WP as my text editor for my graphics publishing duties at the time.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            It even worked under Unix.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          insider knowledge

          It was well known by those involved in the industry at the time that MS nobbled Wordperfect. Of course they used dirty tactics.

        3. Goat Jam

          Moving The Goalposts

          "Also, Wordpefect started to go downhill when it was ported to Windows. WordPerfect 5.1 for Windows had to be installed in Dos and was unstable"

          The problem faced by WP (and Lotus) was that MS were telling everyone (including their "partner, IBM) that OS/2 was the way forward so everyone was developing for that.

          Then MS wrong footed everyone by pulling Windows out of nowhere with Word for Windows (& Excel) ready to ship.

          The WIndows ports of WP and Lotus were consequently rushed to market and were forced to use deliberately broken API's making them slow and unstable.

          Microsoft have always been a malignant force in the IT industry. Always were and always will be.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Lotus and OS/2

            That's not true because Lotus, even after being bought by IBM, always delayed to deliver its products for OS/2 while trying to release on Windows first. I bought Smartsuite 95 or whatever it was called, and I was forced to run the Windows 3.1 version under OS/2 because there were no OS/2 native version. It was promised, but never delivered. OS/2 sinked for its lack of office applications as well.

      2. Tom 13

        Not just the program quality, MS also illegally leveraged their OS monopoly

        to undercut the competition on price. Here in the states MS sold "competitive upgrades" to WP for $100 a copy if you had a legal WP license. Full cost for the program matched the $350 price for a full copy of WP.

        I'll grant MS the competitive edges they have won. I won't grant them competitive edges when they leveraged or lied about leveraging their OS monopoly.

    2. raving angry loony

      the point

      Yes. That's the point of the lawsuit. Microsoft deliberately provided broken APIs that Wordperfect had to use. APIs that made WP look broken. Meanwhile, they used undocumented APIs that actually worked for MS Word.

      That is the whole POINT of this lawsuit. Microsoft using its dominant position as the operating system vendor to crush competition to its word processing software. Instead of, you know, actually competing by trying to have a better product. At the time, Microsoft didn't have the better product.

  2. geekclick

    Forgive my possible lack of understanding here but...

    isn't it the job of software companies to make warez compatible with the OS and not t'other way round?

    Am happy to be corrected just seems a little black and white when I look at it like that!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yes, but...

      ...when the predominant OS owner also competes with your product, and builds undocumented private interfaces to gain performance advantages for his own products, then some smell of unfair competition might be detected.

      I seem remember from the time that Word was a slicker product, even before Windows, but you could do more with WP. Word was OK for standard company (paper) mail, but you could use WP to produce a properly finished book, including technical text such as formulae. Needed a lot of work though.

    2. Jeremy Chappell


      No. It is the responsibility of the platform vendor to support application development on their platform, otherwise you could make it wilfully hard for anyone but your own developers to create anything (which is exactly what Novell are alleging here).

      Would could provide private APIs the deny outside developers access to parts of the system, or you could release documentation (and even working code) very late in the process to advantage your own developers. This is clearly "antitrust".

      Now you can develop a platform that is horribly difficult for developers (I'm looking at you Sony) this is fine as long as it is as difficult for your own developers, but why would you?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Apple is applying the MS lesson

        And even put it in your SDK license. You can't use an API they think you should not. MS was just an amateur monopolist, they had (and probably have) hidden APIs but didn't block you to use them if you discovered them (that was how many good DOS applicatins were written, BTW).

        Apple is a professional monopolist, they legally bound you to avoid using their own APIs.

    3. Rob Dobs

      yes but....

      When said OS is purposefully withholding information that would allow your software to work, it becomes an anti-competitive and therefore illegal act.

      The question wasn't whether WordPerpect would work on the underlying OS (DOS really), but did M$ withhold key information to keep it working, or specifically bugger their version of DOS up to ensure that WordPerfect specifically would not run on it.

      And bullocks to Gates, I've never heard a more BS argument. Word Perfect 5 is in some ways STILL better than Word's current offering. Word still can't manage to show you all the editing features that are being used, and "hides" things in the background. WP was WAY more loved for many years and only because it wouldn't run on the 95 OS, did Word even have a shot at it. EVERYONE knew this as matter of fact at the time... for Gates to re-write history is disingenuous and utter bollocks! Part of why the world will always remember him as a fiddling little twit that he is. Money can make you "cool" but no amount of money can fix it when you are a total buggering knob.

    4. Philip Storry

      Novell's allegations are well documented - basically, MS had a bunch of APIs for Chicago (what shipped as Windows 95) and was encouraging their use by third party companies. They then pulled them in a late beta.

      So efectively Microsoft suckered Novell into developing for something that they never intended to ship.

      See for all the gory details. But beware - it'll take a long while to read!

    5. Kevin Johnston


      You are correct on that, but the thrust of the case seems to be that Microsoft made changes to the OS which meant that the competition were relying on functions etc which were no longer there or did not work in the same way any more. Word did not suffer the same fate because they did not rely on those functions

      It is down to whether the changes were made in full knowledge of what was being used by whom or if it was just a happy accident that Word was not affected.

      Yes, I know where I would put my money but that doesn't mean I am right, or that the courts see it that way.

  3. MJI Silver badge

    I prefered WordStar

    And was using it until recently

    Now using Orifice (at work) and the ribbon interface is vile. Pity our 2003 CD got damaged.

    1. Giles Jones Gold badge

      WordStar's big failure was changing all the keyboard shortcuts which their costumers had memorised and thus alienating all the customers.

      But honestly, the PC office software was diabolical in the early 1990s. Using DOS for office apps? I ran a GUI word processor on my Commodore 64 in 1986, it was part of GEOS.

      I'm partly supportive of Microsoft's position that they produced a better application, however what they also did was lock in people as the file format was closed and presumably unavailable for competitors to use. However I don't think this was unusual back then, we've moved forward a little in terms of interoperability but not that far.

    2. JimC

      Frankly I don't think anyone's

      written a decent Windows word processor, even now. Word still strikes me as clumsy, especially with all the different page view options and so on - all features and no userfriendliness, Wordstar for Windows was a shadow of the Dos product and WP for Windows was pretty poor too.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        No such thing as "a decent word processor"

        I'll go further than that: no one's written a "decent" word processor - at least not of the WYSIWYG variety - for any platform. WYSIWYG word processing is a terrible way to produce text, and a terrible way to do page design.

        Markup languages with separate formatters (RUNOFF and its descendants, the Script/GML/SGML/HTML family, TeX and LaTeX) have their drawbacks too, but at least they can do text production well (when users have text editors they're comfortable with), and they remove page-design concerns for common document types where custom graphic design isn't required.

        That said, WordPerfect had a number of advantages over Word, particularly in its "Reveal Codes" mode. Word has always suffered from broken-black-box disease; when formatting goes wrong, it can be nearly impossible to fix it. (OpenOffice, though it suffers from egregious Word imitation, at least uses OpenDoc, so you can crack open the document and fix the formatting by hand.)

  4. Kajiki

    I remember reading quite a few years ago somewhere that the Word Perfect team had to use APIs/Dlls from MS which, while documented, did not work as expected or lacked functionality. When they deconstructed how Word handled particular features they found that it used undocumented DLLs etc.

    If this is true it would seem go to the the heart of the anti-trust argument and put a pretty big dent in Bill's argument that the Word team were simply better.

  5. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Curious, what could this OS feature be that puts users systems in mortal jeopardy


    The successor to "The jobs not done till Lotus won't run?"

    1. Gordon Fecyk

      That's, "DOS ain't done..."

      Lotus' founders tell a different story.

      And too bad for Novell or WordPerfect Corp if they sat on their hands while Microsoft developed Windows pre-95. Didn't WP Corp resist developing on the Macintosh?

      I love this quote: "We had to make changes to DOS to help some very old applications that were doing some very bad things." This sounds sooooooo very familiar (IE7 / Vista / UAC / XP SP2).

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  7. The answer is 42

    I must dig out my copy of Office 4.3 sometime and see how quick it is on a modern computer; I'm sure it would be faster than WordPerfect. Now, If I could only get a 5 1/4 floppy drive with a USB adaptor I could try Windows 3.1 as well... Walking stick, depart stage left.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You'll want 4.3c - wasn't that the one that fixed y2k?

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Mixed feelings...

    I'll 'admit': I'm an Office 2010 user and I really enjoy the things I can do with it. A big influence is the fact that I use Office for my own company, thus I need a good infrastructure which helps me get stuff done, but just so you know I'm still biased (I also love to do some VBA design in my 'spare' time for example).

    Gates has a point IMO but its not as black/white as he portraits things here. I've been a heavy WordPerfect user as well, mostly WP5.1. And quite frankly in many aspects that "simple" DOS program way out powered the early versions of Word back then when it came to functionality.

    The big issue however was that Word allowed people to use the program without having to follow a study up front to get to learn all the keyboard shortcuts (WP had /many/ of those). That was an advantage. Another big issue was that Office often sold together with Windows.

    And that is a very important aspect which should not be ignored either. Back then the whole IT market was way too difficult for our small-minded (errr, I meant busy) politicians to follow or understand so the anti-monopoly rulings as we have now were no way in sight back then.

    MS didn't gain the upper hand by merely producing a superior product.

  9. Jon Press

    Typists have more to complain about than Novell

    WP for DOS was a favourite of power typists - who could enter and format large chunks of text without taking their hands off the keyboard. It was indeed the "perfect" tool for the typing pool.

    Word for Windows meant people could more easily type their own letters and memos and the job for which WP was designed was eliminated. Whatever shenanigans may or may not have gone on behind the scenes, it was the change in the way offices operated that was WP's undoing.

    Mind you, I can't help feeling that the perceived efficiency of DIY dictation is an illusion compared to Ms Witherspoon taking down your articles professionally.and bashing our your bons mots as her flying fingers blur before your eyes.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      And a PC on every desk...

      "Mind you, I can't help feeling that the perceived efficiency of DIY dictation is an illusion compared to Ms Witherspoon taking down your articles professionally.and bashing our your bons mots as her flying fingers blur before your eyes."

      Agreed - aside from the bit about "perceived efficiency", since I don't know any reliable source that every claimed having everyone do their own business writing would improve efficiency.

      If you look at the history of innovations in business writing - about the mid-19th century through the early 20th - there's a steady and considerable increase in efficiency and productivity, thanks to technologies like duplication (spirit copiers, etc), vertical filing, and the typewriter. (Yates, /Control Through Communication/, is an excellent reference.) Then the PC becomes ubiquitous; executives, middle managers, and knowledge workers start handling their own business writing; and most of that efficiency and productivity is lost.

  10. Fihart

    usual MS monopolist behaviour

    The contest between WordPerfect for MSDOS and Word for Windows was over the moment one tried Word -- the weird formatting marks and preview options of WP were stone age.

    The problem is that Microsoft now own the word processing market and have tried various annoying strategies to crowbar users into buying unnecessary new versions which are merely bigger rather than better than the existing.

    Latest nonsense is to make .docx the default save in Word so that more idiotic users send me attachments that my perfectly usable Word 2000 won't open. I usually respond with a sharp note that they should investigate the "mysteries" of Save As options and resend their document in the universal .doc format.

    1. error handler

      "By installing the Compatibility Pack in addition to Microsoft Office 2000, Office XP, or Office 2003, you will be able to open, edit, and save files using the file formats in newer versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint."


  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This will go nowhere

    Surprised Novell has any money to waste on litigation.

    Word was better. If it hadn't been users would have flocked back to WordPerfect for DOS (because Word for WIndows was god awful).

  12. paulc

    Messing with key combos (Alt F4) and illegal bundling didn't help either...

    Microsoft sneakily changed things so that the key combination Alt F4 would exit the current program... in Wordperfect, that same key combo was a common thing many people used to Block Text prior to copying or doing something to it... so people who had got Wordperfect key combos ingrained were suddenly finding the program closing and losing their work when using the Windows 95 version.

    Microsoft also bundled free copies of MS Word for windows with PCs sold with Win 95 into businesses so they were less likely to purchase Wordperfect for Win 95 when the PC already had MS Word on it.

    "While WordPerfect retained a majority of the retail shelf sales of word processors, Microsoft gained market share by including Word for Windows in its Windows product on new PCs. Microsoft gave discounts for Windows to OEMs who included Word on their PCs. When new PC buyers found Word installed on their new PC, Word began to dominate market share of desktop word processing."

    See wiki:

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      "People losing their work"?

      Do you mean that they would somehow *also* accidentally click 'Don't save'?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Alt+F4 has always closed programs on Windows.

      MS Did not include WFW with any PCs that I'm aware of, some PCs did have a chopped down version of Word which came with Works, now happily defunct.

      The thing is, though - if wordprocessors can run on Windows prior to 95 and they run fine on Win 95, what was the problem with Wordperfect? It ran on Windows prior to 95, why didn't it run ok on 95?

  13. DrXym

    Sore losers?

    I reckon WordPerfect would be less sort if they had enjoyed the unprecedented access to the OS developers that Office developers received. Or if they hadn't been shut out of the preinstall market because MS started discounting and bundling Word with new machines. It was IMO basically a dress rehearsal for what MS did to Netscape later.

    While I think WordPerfect didn't help itself by getting progressively crappier, that is no excuse for some of the things Microsoft did to put them down.

  14. JDX Gold badge

    I think this one case where MS just made a better product.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I remember this well ...

    I used WordPerfect for DOS for years and it was way ahead of Word -- when WP6 for Windows arrived, it was hamstrung by the fact MS didn't release any Windows API details to competition. The full API was not published then and MS had a distinct advantage over everyone else. Word ran better under Windows 3.1 because it had a raft of API calls which allowed it to.

    Word is still not as productive a tool today as WordPerfect for DOS used to be.

  16. Absent

    I had WordPerfect for the Atari ST, it was a pretty bad piece of software and seemed ludicrously priced, $400 to type shit on the screen?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Guilty as Charged

    Please, keep in mind that Microsoft is a convicted monopoly.

  18. jason 7

    I prefered....

    ...Amipro but that's just me.

  19. Richard 31
    Paris Hilton

    They both sucked/

    Ami Pro was better than both!


    I don't think Ami Pro even made it to 95 at all.

    1. Kevin Johnston


      Oh but it did. I still have a Smartsuite Millenium Edition disc where they had renamed AmiPro to WordPro (see what they did there?) but it was just a spiffed up version

  20. Simon Jones [MSDL]

    Compatibility Pack

    If you're still using Office 2000, XP (2002) or 2003 then get the Compatibility Pack so you can open and save files in the new Office 2007 & 2010 file formats.

  21. davefb

    tbh my recollection is

    that windows had loads of 'workarounds' to get things like word perfect to work, because they'd accessed hidden features ( rightly or wrongly , its always a dangerous thing to do). then let all that lead they had disappear by being more bothered about running to the lawyers instead of fixing bugs or rewriting code.

    I'm sort of confused by the 'encouraged to use' then 'pulled' stuff.. Did everyone else have the same problem? It just seems like the usual issues that happen on the roll out of a new os, why was it seemingly only word perfect that had problems?

    In fact as someone has already said, the pre-release are in m$ best interest to get software working, otherwise why would people buy windows?

  22. Gil Grissum

    It's easy for a loser who's product has changed hands three times at least, to claim sour grapes because they lost. If their programmers were any good, they could have properly engineered their Word Perfect product to work better on Windows than Microsoft. Novell is just sour grapes that their Netware Network Operating System was relegated to museum piece status due to Microsoft out doing them on Network OS's as well. The simple fact is that businesses and consumers are going to use products that work for them and when everyone around you is using MS Word, what reason do you have to use Word Perfect? Microsoft doesn't like the existence of Open Office, but that is a free compatible office suite that works work Word. Microsoft didn't brake any API's to keep Open Office from working any more than they broke API's to crush Word Perfect or Novel, or Netscape or any other product that goes out of fashion because no one wants it any more.

    1. Tom 13

      I don't give a damn how good the programmer is,

      if he doesn't have access to the APIs, including ALL the syntax, he can't write a piece of software that will run properly on an OS. This had nothing to do with DOS/Windows vs NOS. Also see my post above about illegally leveraging the OS monopoly on the price front.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        So which APIs did the other companies that made successful Windows Applications in 1995 use, and why didn't those APIs work for what WordPerfect needed to do?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Gil Grissum - You're missing one important point here

      Even the brightest programmers in the world would have no way in hell to write a good program if the OS maker is withholding relevant information. If you read those court documents you will see that Microsoft officially did consider hiding crucial info from Novell because they considered WordPerfect as being a competitor. They knew exactly what they were doing and this is Novell's claim and the internal memos from Microsoft are very clear on that.

      This is the same trick Microsoft is pulling with Samba these days: as soon as EU forced them (huge fines applied in order to convince Microsoft to comply) to publish API for SMB protocols, Microsoft promptly came with v2 of those protocols trying again to limit Samba ability to inter-operate.

  23. Christian Berger

    What we should learn from that

    Never trust an API only promised by a single company. Keep your software portable.

  24. KirstarK

    wp sucked donkey., I hated it. Was clunky as you like. Word however was easy to use and was (before the bloody ribbon) intuitive.

    I never understood why everyone raved about WP and 123 they were nasty

    1. Eddy Ito

      "Word however was easy to use and was (before the bloody ribbon) intuitive."

      You don't mean intuitive you mean unfamiliar. What you mean is that you were fully accustomed to the Word way of doing things and anything different requires you to relearn how to make it work. That is why you don't care for the ribbon, not because it's unintuitive (no software is) but because it's unfamiliar. To paraphrase I don't remember who, the nipple is intuitive, everything else is learned.

  25. Ozzy

    I also vote for Ami Pro

    I used WforW v6 at work - fat, slow, buggy, unhelpful.

    I used Ami Pro at home - twice as fast, integrated pictures, nice to use.

    Ami Pro died when Lotus "upgraded" it to WordPro.

    These days I see little point in using a computer to mimic paper. It makes as much sense as the guy at a place where I worked in the 80s who used the flash new HP9836 to print off Sine tables. He clearly hadn't really grasped the idea of a computer.

  26. BitDr

    Gates tells the truth...

    What he says is perhaps accurate but it seems it is incomplete. Novell may have been inept, but not at writing code, they were inept in managing Microsoft in that they did not bring Microsoft's alleged manipulations into the light of day when they were happening. Mr. Gates says that they (Novell) "had simply been unable to deliver a version of word processor WordPerfect that was better than Microsoft's Word in time for the launch of Windows 95". What he fails to convey is that Novell's inability was allegedly enhanced by Microsoft imposing license restrictions which made software development with the then new Windows 95 product nearly impossible.

    Remember rule #1. Don't deal with Microsoft.

  27. kain preacher

    The real issue

    The real issue is that Novel gave away their right to sue and already received some money when Correl sued MS. As much as people might dislike MS their has to be and end to it . If MS is going to keep on getting sued for the exact same action against the exact same person why stop until the DOJ makes them ?

  28. Lopez

    Around the Windows 3 era, The standard word processor in the company I worked for was Multimate, remember that one ?

    If I remember rightly, the DOS version of Wordperfect was used a lot in law firms.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Seems to me...

    ...that WP was the better word processor in the old days, but was never reliably stable in any release of Windows. Subsequent versions never got better in this regard. Who's to blame for that? I suspect we'll never know. My own history of software usage goes back to WP5 and Word 1.0, never did use WordStar, though that was the other alternative. For now, I'll stick to Libre/OpenOffice. I don't use MS Office unless I absolutely have to, and fecking hate very minute of it.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sore losers, eh ?

    Just take a look at the following :

    Yes, I know, it is posted on Groklaw website but it is an official document as presented in court.

    I would appreciate for those tempted to down vote this post to come up with decent arguments for doing that.

  31. Slackness


    Doesnt bother me as I am still using IBM DisplayWrite 4.

  32. ZaldronGG

    Does anyone have any insight on which DLLs and APIs we're talking about here? This sounds like a suspiciously bad excuse from Novell's part.

    What magical functions could have been the sole reason a program as complex and extensive as a word processor and as famous and widespread as WP failed?

    1. Gordon Fecyk

      Probably the ones from Advanced Windows NT (ISBN 1556155670, 1993)

      Still available from Amazon apparently. If WP Corp / Novell actually used these guides they could have prepared for Windows 95 at least two years before the fact.

      A core "Designed for Windows 95" requirement was compatibility with Windows NT 3.5, aside from programs that used the DirectX API if I recall. Advanced Windows 2nd Edition (ISBN 1556156774, January 1995) would've filled in the gaps between NT 3.5 and 95 about six months before the fact.

      (By the way Downvoters: I have to cite sources to get my points across because I take an unpopular view here. You are not held to such a standard. Be thankful before hitting the Dislike button.)

    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge


      Look at the document cited in grocklaw 2 or 3 items above you.

  33. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge


    (he) testified that the Windows team dumped a technical feature that would have supported WordPerfect because he was worried it might crash the operating system.

    So what about all the other technical features that DID crash Windows 95, was he worried about them?

    Ahh the happy days spent curing .dll hell, the registry, and trying to figure out what the BSoD ment

  34. Stuart Duel
    Thumb Up

    WP was King

    I used Word Perfect from DOS days through Windows 3.1, 3.11 and 95 in the admin jobs I had at the time. I absolutely loved the script writing ability of WP - you could simply and quickly write mini-programs to deal with fiddly tasks such as filling in fields to print on pre-formatted form paper instead of writing it out by hand.

    I worked for the Housing Commission (public housing provider) where we had to manually write out an initial five rent deposit slips for the new tenant to use until their printed book arrived. There were six fields to complete on each slip - name, address, account number, reference number, and a couple of others i can't recall. The fields were small, so it was a time consuming, diabolical tasks to do 30 times a day x 5. Then I wrote a WP script (took me about 20 minutes to write it and get it working perfectly) which allowed staff to type the info up in 20 seconds to have 10 slips printed in about the same time, down from the 5+ minutes to hand print 5 slips and eliminating the hand cramps everyone complained about. That was the power of Word Perfect.

    Word Perfect was a better program. It was a more powerful program and as noted by someone else, had a reveal codes function which actually revealed all the hidden stuff, allowing you to quickly identify and remove unnecessary formatting codes that were causing a document to not preview as expected.

    I currently use Pages and occasionally MS Word 11 but if Correll released a new version of Word Perfect for Mac, I'd buy it in a heartbeat.

  35. Wensleydale Cheese

    I liked Ami Pro too

    I had Ami Pro and quite liked it. It had a macro language that I had some fun with. Its successor was Lotus Word Pro, which according to Wiki is now called IBM Lotus Word Pro, and still appears to be available for sale:

    Moving on a few years from Windows 95, in 2000 I bought a PC which came with Word Perfect Office Suite. The word processor in that was far easier to use than Word 97 which I had at work, and had a quality rock solid feel to it that was missing from the Microsoft product.

    I tried to buy the Linux version of WP Office Suite, but wasn't fast enough off the mark, for it was withdrawn from the market. I honestly don't know whether it was pulled because of "pressure" or because it didn't work as advertised. The other Linux office suites at the time were pretty unreliable in my experience.

    1. PhilipN Silver badge

      WP on Linux

      I got WordPerfect for Linux from Corel - must still have the CD somewhere - but it was a pig.

      Could have been gotten to work (I mean WP on Linux, not the 0.001 version that was released) but I guess nobody was interested. I know it disappeared almost as soon as it appeared as a commercial package.

      Didn't know there was a suite.

    2. mikebartnz

      If I remember correctly the Linux version got pulled at about the same time as MS and Corel settled a disagreement and it isn't strange when you consider Borland stopped producing Kylix at the same time as MS and Borland settled a disagreement.

  36. Anonymous Coward

    "It was a ground-breaking piece of work... ..."

    I thought he was supposed to be giving evidence, not a marketing presentation.

    I suppose he doesn't know the difference.

  37. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    From the Groklaw PDF an MS strategy begins to emerge.

    Identify key apps that would encourage users to migrate to other OS's *if* they moved.

    Encourage them *not* to move.

    Sucker them into using "selected" API's

    Dump the API pre-launch crippling the competition and leaving the way clear for your products (whose developers were warned these API's are "provisional" wink, wink).

    Obviously if you're the sort of corporate sociopath for whom words like "fairness", "legal", and "competitive" are just words this routine won't bother you in the slightest. MS's past behavior suggests they have managers who fit that description quite well.

    While MS *might* be less inclined to do this today that probably owes more to the fact there are fewer market niches that they don't control the #1 player in on windows and so fear what would happen if *that* player moved to another OS *possibly* taking their user base with them.

    Moral of this story. If you compete with MS in *any* market, even one they would *like* to be in and your software depends on windows APIs in *any* way keep your documentation up to date (and retain older copies to see what has been air brushed out) and don't hesitate to fire up a debugger (preferably *not* the MS debugger) if anything starts acting odd.

    MS moved into ERP a while ago.

    I'd suggest Oracle and SAP better watch out for any "surprise" API changes which just happen to kneecap their products under Windows.

    1. Gordon Fecyk

      Oracle needs to fix their own garbage first

      "I'd suggest Oracle and SAP better watch out for any "surprise" API changes which just happen to kneecap their products under Windows."

      Surprises like prohibiting non-admin write access to the root of the system volume, perhaps?

      Is Oracle the only Windows developer that still installs their code in "C:\ORACLE" sixteen years after the release of Windows 95?! And then insist that non-admins need read/write access to this folder to run any Oracle-based applications?

      Maybe I need to start a fundraiser for poor companies like Novell and Oracle that can't afford copies of official eighteen-year-old books (Advanced Windows 1st through 4th editions) so they can keep up with the rest of the PC world. Hidden APIs or no, how about documented, well-known ones?

  38. John Styles

    I really don't understand what these APIs did

    ... and why they were so vital. I mean, why did people need special file dialog calls, what was wrong with the standard ones? I have been developing Windows software for ages, albeit vertical market apps and have never needed any weird undocumented APIs.

    The MAPI thing, on the other hand, does sound rather unpleasant.

  39. Homer 1

    Microsoft "worked super-hard" on Word?

    Yeah, they worked "super-hard" ... by poaching Charles Simonyi and Richard Brodie from Xerox, to "rewrite" Xerox Bravo, the first GUI word processor, then rebrand it as Microsoft's "innovation".

    Then they worked "super-hard" to break cross-platform software, by releasing deliberately broken APIs, whilst using undocumented APIs for their own software, just like they did with Novell, Netscape, Real Networks and anyone else who dared to support anything but just Windows.

    Both the DOJ and the EU Commission have already exposed Microsoft's criminal business methods in great detail, producing swath of court evidence, most of which originates from within Microsoft, so why does this even need to go to trial again? It should be an open and shut case.

    Here's a good summary:

  40. Jonathon Desmond

    What I don't understand about this is....

    ... that I was using Wordperfect 5.2 for Windows back in 1992/93 on Windows 3.1/3.11. Well, when I say using I mean cursing and swearing a lot at the endless stream of GPF's. In short, it sucked well before Windows 95 was on the scene.

    So, I switched to Word 2.0 then upgraded to 6.0.

    By the time of Windows 95 general release nearly everyone had been through 3 years of Wordperfect sucking so badly that they all did the same thing and switched. I was working in the channel at the time and the number of Word crossgrade licenses we sold was staggering.

    Odd thing is, other large companies like Lotus and Borland had no issues writing reliable software for 16 bit and (later) 32 bit Windows. Only WordPerfect sticks in my memory as having this issue.

    This is like Corel trying to blame Microsoft for Corel Draw 4 being a big stinking pile of shite; I believe the reality is that either the programmers just weren't good enough, testing not through enough or the marketing teams were too dominant. I suspect all three.

  41. bep

    In my opinion what killed Wordperfect wasn't Word, it was Excel.

    MS bundled their word processor into MS Office and, IIRC, you couldn't even buy Word as a stand-alone program for a corporate environment. If you already have a decent word processor bundled with the spreadsheet all the accountants want then it's hard to justify buying a separate word processor, even if it was (and still is) better.

  42. Sceptics 'R Us
    Paris Hilton

    If MS really did that.....

    The PAs in the organisation I worked for in the early 90s tested WP and Word and unanimously determined WP to be the better application. As an amateur user, I found it much more intuitive, and the ability to see all the hidden commands in any document was a godsend compared to my kids' use of Word at home when, for example, we had to delete work and start again because the reasons underlying any incorrect formatting were just impossible to determine and fix

    I can also remember sitting in my office at 03.00, using the Windows version of WP, 6.0 if I recall correctly, to work on what was a crucial document, and having to save it every time I changed just a single character, in case it might crash. I also remember my own PA in floods of tears trying to work with that version

    If the problems we encountered then were really due to MS deliberately misleading the WP developers, regardless of how wrong it would undoubtedly be to do so, and while I would never advocate this as a course of action, as one who suffered from the consequences. I would find it very hard to shed any tears if someone took those responsible, lined them up on the edge of the Grand Canyon, and pushed them off

    Paris, because at least she sucks honourably

  43. wayward4now

    No need to get mad, just get even

    Simple! Open Source WP and give it away. That'll screw Billy Boy over. Worked for Netscape!

  44. Carl Pearson

    The Blue Screen of Life

    WP 5.1 was undoubtably the best word processer made. Compared to its rivals - notably Wordstar, to a much lesser extent Word (<esc> to configure? That's like clicking "Start" to power off. Oh, yeah, same company) - it was head and shoulders above everything.

    (Must say though that while I never cared for WordStar, I still use their CTRL-Key combos all the time.)

    There are two features I very much miss from WP, unavailable in anything out there today:

    * The ability to left, center AND right justify words in a single line of text.

    * Reveal Codes.

    This latter was an awesome feature, albeit required if you started delving into complicated docs.

    Macro capability and customizable keyboard layouts were pretty cool too.

    I swore off WP when the 'doze version came out. Knew they had lost the war, but didn't blame them at all. It was M$ they were up against, after all; the same guys who stole compression from Stacker, back when a 40 meg hard drive was considered huge (and cost twice that of the last 2TB USB I got from the local office supply store).

    All this is making me wonder if I could somehow coerce 5.1 to run on my Macbook Pro. Sans Parallels, of course.

    Then again, try as I might I can't successfully get my SuperDrive to read a 5.1" floppy, so installation may not be so easy a task...

  45. A J Stiles

    If history teaches us one thing .....

    ...... it is that more battles are lost through error than won through brilliance. Having a technically superior product is no guarantee of success, if you make a bad marketing decision.

    Of course, if Microsoft really did deliberately mess up APIs (and that's not at all unlikely; Office versions up to 2000 appeared to reimplement some of the low-level functionality of Windows 9x) then that's another matter entirely.

  46. NotMyRealName


    * The ability to left, center AND right justify words in a single line of text.

    * Reveal Codes.

    and all the other features mentioned.

    With an original licence number, you could legally get WP5.1+ on a CD:

    And then run it from a USB stick (on practically any version of Windoze):

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