Introduction To Microsoft Word Computer Science Essay

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

Microsoft Word is a non-free commercial word processor designed by Microsoft. It was first released in 1983 under the name Multi-Tool Word for Xenix systems. Subsequent versions were later written for several other platforms including IBM PCs running DOS (1983), the Apple Macintosh (1984), the AT&T Unix PC (1985), Atari ST (1986), and Microsoft Windows (1989). It is a component of the Microsoft Office system; it is also sold as a standalone product and included in Microsoft Works Suite. The current versions are Microsoft Word 2010 for Windows and 2011 for Mac.


In 1981, Microsoft hired Charles Simonyi, the primary developer of Bravo, the first GUI word processor, which was developed at Xerox PARC. Simonyi started work on a word processor called Multi-Tool Word and soon hired Richard Brodie, a former Xerox intern, who became the primary software engineer.

Microsoft announced Multi-Tool Word for Xenix and MS-DOS in 1983. Its name was soon simplified to Microsoft Word. Free demonstration copies of the application were bundled with the November 1983 issue of PC World, making it the first program to be distributed on-disk with a magazine. Unlike most MS-DOS programs at the time, Microsoft Word was designed to be used with a mouse, and it was able to display some formatting, such as bold, italic, and underlined text, although it could not render fonts. It was not initially popular, since its user interface was different from the leading word processor at the time, WordPerfect. However, Microsoft steadily improved the product, releasing versions 2.0 through 5.0 over the next six years.

In 1985, Microsoft ported Word to the Macintosh. This was made easier by the fact that Word for DOS has been designed for use with high-resolution displays and laser printers, even though none were yet available to the general public. Following the precedents of LisaWrite and MacWrite, Word for Mac added true features. After its release, Word for Mac's sales were higher than its MS-DOS counterpart for at least four years.

The second release of Word for Macintosh, shipped in 1987, was named Word 3.0 to synchronize its version number with Word for DOS; this was Microsoft's first attempt to synchronize version numbers across platforms. Word 3.0 included numerous internal enhancements and new features, including the first implementation of the Rich Text Format (RTF) specification, but was plagued with bugs. Within a few months Word 3.0 was superseded by a more stable Word 3.01, which was mailed free to all registered users of 3.0. After MacWrite, Word for Mac never had any serious rivals on the Mac. Word 5.1 for the Macintosh, released in 1992, was a very popular word processor owing to its elegance, relative ease of use and feature set. Many users say its the best version of Word for Mac ever created.

In 1986, an agreement between Atari and Microsoft brought Word to the Atari ST under the name Microsoft Write. The Atari ST version was a port of Word 1.05 for the Apple Macintosh and was never updated.

The first version of Word for Windows was released in 1989. With the release of Windows 3.0 the following year, sales began to pick up and Microsoft soon became the market leader for word processors for IBM PC-compatible computers. In 1991, Microsoft capitalized on Word for Windows' increasing popularity by releasing a version of Word for DOS, version 5.5, that replaced its unique user interface with an interface similar to a Windows application. When Microsoft became aware of the Year 2000 problem, it made Microsoft Word 5.5 for DOS available for download free. As of November 2010, it is still available for download from Microsoft's web site.

In 1991, Microsoft embarked on a project code-named Pyramid to completely rewrite Microsoft Word from the ground up. Both the Windows and Mac versions would start from the same code base. It was abandoned when it was determined that it would take the development team too long to rewrite and then catch up with all the new capabilities that could have been added in the same time without a rewrite. Instead, the next versions of Word for Windows and Mac, dubbed version 6.0, both started from the code base of Word for Windows 2.0.

With the release of Word 6.0 in 1993, Microsoft again attempted to synchronize the version numbers and coordinate product naming across platforms, this time across DOS, Macintosh, and Windows (this was the last version of Word for DOS). It introduced AutoCorrect, which automatically fixed certain typing errors, and AutoFormat, which could reformat many parts of a document at once. While the Windows version received favorable reviews the Macintosh version was widely derided. Many accused it of being slow, clumsy and memory intensive, and its user interface differed significantly from Word. In response to user requests, Microsoft was forced to offer Word 5 again, after it had been discontinued. Subsequent versions of Word for Macintosh are no longer ported versions of Word for Windows.


Word 95 for Windows was the first 32-bit version of the product, released with Office 95 around the same time as Windows 95. It was a straightforward port of Word 6.0 and it introduced few new features, one of them being red-squiggle underlined spell-checking. Starting with Word 95, releases of Word were named after the year of its release, instead of its version number. Word 2010 allows more customization of the Ribbon, adds a Backstage view for file management, has improved document navigation, allows creation and embedding of screenshots, and integrates with world web application.


In 1997, Microsoft formed the Macintosh Business Unit as an independent group within Microsoft focused on writing software for the Mac. Its first version of Word, Word 98, was released with Office 98 Macintosh Edition. Document compatibility reached parity with Word 97, and it included features from Word 97 for Windows, including spell and grammar checking with squiggles. Users could choose the menus and keyboard shortcuts to be similar to either Word 97 for Windows or Word 5 for Mac. Unfortunately, Word on the Mac in this and later releases also became vulnerable to future macro viruses that could compromise Word (and Excel) documents.

Word 2001, released in 2000, added a few new features, including the Office Clipboard, which allowed users to copy and paste multiple items. It was the last version to run on classic Mac OS and, on Mac OS X, it could only run within the Classic Environment. Word X, released in 2001, was the first version to run natively on, and required, Mac OS X, and introduced non-contiguous text selection.

Word 2004 was released in May 2004. It included a new Notebook Layout view for taking notes either by typing or by voice. Other features, such as tracking changes, were made more similar with Office for Windows. Microsoft released patches through the years to eliminate most known macro vulnerabilities from this version.

Word 2008, released on January 15, 2008, included a Ribbon-like feature, called the Elements Gallery, that can be used to select page layouts and insert custom diagrams and images. It also included a new view focused on publishing layout, integrated bibliography management, and native support for the new Office Open XML format. It was the first version to run natively on Intel-based Macs. Word 2011, released in October 2010, replaced the Elements Gallery in favor of a Ribbon user interface that is much more similar to Office for Windows, and includes a full-screen mode that allows users to focus on reading and writing documents, and support for Office Web Application.

Microsoft Word's native file formats are denoted either by a .doc or .docx file extension.

Although the document extension has been used in many different versions of Word, it actually encompasses four distinct file formats:

Word for DOS

Word for Windows 1 and 2; Word 4 and 5 for Mac

Word 6 and Word 95 for Windows; Word 6 for Mac

Word 97, 2000, 2002 and 2003 for Windows; Word 98, 2001, X, and 2004 for Mac

The newer ".docx" extension signifies the Office Open XML international standardfor Office documents and is used by Word 2007 for Windows, Word 2008 for the Macintosh, as well as by a growing number of applications from other vendors, including Writer, an open source word processing program.

Microsoft does not guarantee the correct display of the document on different workstations, even if the two workstations use the same version of Microsoft Word, primarily due to page layout depending on the current printer. This means it is possible the document the recipient sees might not be exactly the same as the document the sender sees.

During the late 1990s and early 2000s, the default Word document format became a de facto standard of document file formats for Microsoft Office users. Though usually just referred to as "Word Document Format", this term refers primarily to the range of formats used by default in Word version 97-2003.

Word document files by using the Word 97-2003 Binary File Format implement Object Linking and Embedding structured storage to manage the structure of their file format. OLE behaves rather like a conventional hard drive file system and is made up of several key components. Each Word document is composed of so-called "big blocks" which are almost always 512-byte chunks; hence a Word document's file size will in most cases be a multiple of 512.

"Storages" are analogues of the directory on a disk drive, and point to other storages or "streams" which are similar to files on a disk. The text in a Word document is always contained in the "WordDocument" stream. The first big block in a Word document, known as the "header" block, provides important information as to the location of the major data structures in the document. "Property storages" provide metadata about the storages and streams in a doc file, such as where it begins and its name and so forth. The "File information block" contains information about where the text in a Word document starts, ends, what version of Word created the document and other attributes.

Microsoft has published specifications for the Word 97-2003 Binary File Format.

Word 2007 and 2010 continue to support the DOC file format, although it is no longer the default.

The XML format introduced in Word 2003 was a simple, XML based format called WordprocessingML.

Word 2007 introduced a new XML-based file format called Office Open XML. The version of OOXML that Word 2007 supports is the ECMA-376 standard, published by Ecma International. After the release of Office 2007, underwent another round of standardization under the International Organization for Standardization . The standard, has two variants. A Transitional variant is intended for legacy compatibility and is not supposed to be used to produce new documents. A Strict variant is based on ISO's revisions and improvements to the ECMA standard.

Word 2010 supports reading and writing Transitional documents but only reading Strict documents. This caused consternation among members of the ISO Office Open XML subcommittee, who claimed that Microsoft was only paying lip service to the standards process. In response, Microsoft says that the Strict schema will be fully supported no later than Office 15, the next major version after Office 2010.

In August 2009, Canadian firm issued Microsoft before the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas for infringing on a software involving custom XML in a document.In December 2009, the judgment of the district court was affirmed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. An injunction was issued that bans Microsoft from selling copies of Word with the code that infringes on the patent after January 11, 2010. Several days after the court ruling, Microsoft released a "mandatory patch" that brings the software into compliance with the court's decision. In November 2010 the US supreme court agreed to hear an appeal by Microsoft.

Opening a Word Document file in a version of Word other than the one with which it was created can cause incorrect display of the document. The document formats of the various versions change in subtle and phenomenon to the base standard. Formatting created in newer versions does not always survive when viewed in older versions of the program, nearly always because that capability does not exist in the previous version. Rich Text Format, an early effort to create a format for interchanging formatted text between applications is an optional format for Word, that retains most formatting and all content of the original document. Later, after HTML appeared, Word supported an HTML derivative as an additional full-fidelity roundtrip format similar to RTF, with the additional capability that the file could be viewed in a web browser.

In February 2007, Sun released an initial version of its ODF plugin for Microsoft Office.Version 1.0 was released in July 2007.Microsoft Word 2007 supports PDF and XPS formats, but only after manual installation of the Microsoft Word has a built-in spell checker, thesaurus, dictionary, Office Assistant and utilities for transferring, copy, pasting and editing text, such as PureText.

WordArt enables drawing text in a Microsoft Word document such as a title, watermark, or other text, with graphical effects such as skewing, shadowing, rotating, stretching in a variety of shapes and colors and even including three-dimensional effects, starting at version 2007, and prevalent in Office 2010. Users can apply formatting effects such as shadow, bevel, glow, and reflection to their document text as easily as applying bold or underline. Users can also spell-check text that uses visual effects, and add text effects to paragraph styles.

Like other Microsoft Office documents, Word files can include advanced macros and even embedded programs. The language was originally WordBasic, but changed to Visual Basic for Applications as of Word 97.

This extensive functionality can also be used to run and propagate viruses in documents. The tendency for people to exchange Word documents via email, USB flash drives, and floppy disks made this an especially attractive vector in 1999. A prominent example was the Melissa worm, but countless others have existed in the wild. Nearly all anti-virus software can detect and clean common macro viruses..

These macro viruses were the only known cross-platform threats between Windows and Macintosh computers and they were the only infection vectors to affect any system in 2007. Microsoft released patches for Word X and Word 2004 that effectively eliminated the macro problem on the Mac by 2006.

Word's macro security setting, which regulates when macros may execute, can be adjusted by the user, but in the most recent versions of Word, is set to HIGH by default, generally reducing the risk from macro-based viruses, which have become uncommon

The program was unable to handle ligatures defined in TrueType fonts those ligature glyphs with Unicode codepoints may be inserted manually, but are not recognized by Word for what they are, breaking spell checking, while custom ligatures present in the font are not accessible at all. Since Word 2010, the program now has advanced typesetting features which can be enabled: OpenType ligatures, kerning, and hyphenation. Other layout deficiencies of Word include the inability to set crop marks or thin spaces. Various third-party workaround utilities have been developed. Similarly, combining diacritics are handled poorly: Word 2003 has "improved support", but many diacritics are still misplaced, even if a precomposed glyph is present in the font.

Additionally, as of Word 2002, Word does automatic font substitution when it finds a character in a document that does not exist in the font specified. It is impossible to deactivate this, making it very difficult to spot when a glyph used is missing from the font in use. If "Mirror margins" or "Different odd and even" are enabled, Word will not allow the user to freshly begin page numbering an even page after a section break. Instead it inserts a mandatory blank page which cannot be removed.

In Word 2004 for Macintosh, support of complex scripts was inferior even to Word 97, and Word 2004 does not support Apple Advanced Typography features like ligatures or glyph variants.

Word has extensive list bullets and numbering feature used for tables, list, pages, chapters, headers, footnotes, and tables of content. Bullets and numbering can be applied directly or using a button or by applying a style or through use of a template. Some problems with numbering have been found in Word 97-2003. An example is Word's system for restarting numbering.The Bullets and Numbering system has been significantly overhauled for Office 2007, which is intended to reduce the severity of these problems. For example, Office 2007 cannot align tabs for multi-leveled numbered lists. Often, items in a list will be inexplicably separated from their list number by one to three tabs, rendering outlines unreadable. These problems cannot be resolved even by expert users. Even basic dragging and dropping of words is usually impossible. Bullet and numbering problems in Word include: bullet characters are often changed and altered, indentation is changed within the same list, bullet point or number sequence can belong to an entirely different nest within the same sequence.

Users can also create tables in MS Word. Depending on the version, Word can perform simple calculations. Formulas are supported as well.

As mentioned in Creating Tables, MS Word supports the use of formulas. To The formula function is on the ribbon in the Data section. Click on the Formula icon to open the Formula Dialog box. At the top of the Formula box is a place to enter a formula. Formulas use a similar convention as that used in Excel. Cell references use the reference style. Formulas are written using cell references Word tables don't display column and row, the address must be determined by counting the number of columns and rows. For example, cell appears three columns from the left and four rows down. Once cell addresses are known the formula can be written. Optional Microsoft Word in program called Formula Builder provides cell references in a number of different ways so the user doesn't have to determine it by counting columns and rows. For example, cell references may be added to a formula by double-clicking the cell.

As an alternative to using actual cell references as the arguments in the formula, you can use instead which adds a range of cells. There are limitations to this method. The cells in the range must not be empty and they must contain numeric values otherwise the calculation will not include the entire range expected. Another problem is that doesn't recognize negative numbers when the number is surrounded by parenthesis and as a result does not calculate correctly. Word also adds the heading row if it contains a numeric value provided the cells in the range are contiguous and all contain values.

AutoSummarize highlights passages or phrases that it considers valuable. The amount of text to be retained can be specified by the user as a percentage of the current amount of text.

According to Ron Fein of the Word 97 team, Auto Summarize cuts wordy copy to the bone by counting words and ranking sentences. First, AutoSummarize identifies the most common words in the document and assigns each word the more frequently a word is used, the higher the score. Then, each sentence by adding the scores of its words and dividing the sum by the number of words in the sentence the higher the average, the higher the rank of the sentence. "It's like the ratio of wheat to chaff explains Fein.


To conclude with ms office one of the main set up which busy people are using todays world. Microsoft Word is a non-free commercial word processor designed by Microsoft.