A few creative options for working without Word

The court injunction barring Microsoft from selling copies of Word with Extensible Markup Language features technically goes into effect in October, although Microsoft’s motion for a stay and its appeal of the decision will likely delay it. And we tend to agree with those who predict that a deal will be reached between Microsoft and i4i, whose patent Microsoft was found to have violated, and Word will go merrily along.

Related stories:

Microsoft appeals loss in patent infringement case

Contemplating a world without Microsoft Word

Readers delve into the weeds of Microsoft ruling

Federal future cloudy for Microsoft Word

Court ruling puts brakes on sales of Microsoft Word

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But if that doesn’t happen, what are the alternatives? We gathered suggestions, some practical, some perhaps less so, from veteran users around the office.

Corel WordPerfect. Many folks have fond memories of WordPerfect, which they consider superior to Word. But they are memories — could WordPerfect rise again?

OpenOffice. The free version of Sun Microsystems’ StarOffice is gaining popularity, both for its price and functionality. But what happens to OpenOffice with Oracle’s takeover of Sun is an open question.

Star Office: OpenOffice with a price tag, for those who would really rather pay.

Wordpad. Hey, it’s also free and has advanced word-wrap features. But no spel chek.

Xywrite. Has that cool, retro blue-and-yellow color scheme and soothing grinding noise each time it accesses the disk. But you need a computer made before 1985 to run it.

Emacs and vi. Highly functional choices of real Unix pros—a qualification that, sadly, leaves out most users.

About the Author

Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.

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Reader Comments

Fri, Sep 4, 2009 Jeff

XyWrite's color scheme is easily configurable, and it actually runs quite well for me in a Windows XP window, as well as in Linux using a DOS emulator. No grinding of the disk, unless you're running it on an 8086 processor! It's a powerful editor, lacking the graphical bloat of Word. Command-line editors have fallen out of favor, but they're still a viable option for people who want to write without a lot of silly formatting details getting in the way. eMacs is indeed geeky but even more powerful than XyWrite. I'll keep XyWrite. I've written in XyWrite since about 1986, formatting later in Word or Open Office, Quark XPress or Pagemaker/InDesign.

Fri, Sep 4, 2009 Carl Distefano NYC

Actually, XyWrite runs very nicely under XP and Vista. It hardly ever accesses the disk (unless you open or save a file). And you can set the screen colors -- and everything else -- to whatever you like. A group of Xy-diehards still meets here:

Wed, Sep 2, 2009 Washington, DC

This looks like a really cool option to take advantage of the best of both worlds. The video shows really powerful use cases for creating, collaborating, and sharing documents faster and easier.

Tue, Sep 1, 2009 Anonymous Insider NY

Linux Usage Stats v GUIs v Word Processors v Document Standards

Oasis first announced it had "formed a technical committee to advance an open, XML-based file format specification for office applications" on November 20, 2002. Back then, Linux had a -1% market share on the desktop.

Four and a half years later, Oasis announced Open Document Format for Office Applications (OpenDocument) v1.0. OpenDocument to provide "a royalty-free, XML-based file format that covers features required by text, spreadsheets, charts, and graphical documents." Linux still had a -1% market share on the desktop:

Six months after the announcement of OpenDocument version 1.0, the Project announced the release of 2.0. Linux had a -1% market share on the desktop.

On February 13, 2007, Oasis announced OpenDocument Version 1.1. The press release indicated the following companies as supporters of the new version: IBM, Nokia, Novell, Red Hat and Sun Microsystems. Linux remained at -1% in the desktop market share.

Eight months later, the Community announced the release of 3.0. This new version was the first to run natively on the Mac OS X platform. Linux continued at -1% in the client market share.

The open source community must dedicated most of its time to fix the problems with the adoption of Linux on the desktop instead of wasting its time on the banalities of ODF v OOXML and similar agendas: (slides) (video)

A timeline helps to remember what the open source community has done about office applications:

2000-07-19 Sun Open Sources StarOffice Technology

2000-10-16 Sun Announces StarOffice Source Code on

2002-04-30 1.0

2002-11-20 OASIS to Advance Open XML Format for Office Apps

2005-05-23 OpenDocument Version 1.0

2005-10-20 2.0

2006-05-08 ISO and IEC Approve OpenDocument OASIS Standard

2007-02-13 OpenDocument Version 1.1

2008-10-13 3.0

Why all of the sudden ODF zealots want 100% interoperability with Microsoft Office?

Google announced a reseller program for Google Apps in January 2009.

According to a press release, Google "announced a program enabling technology solution providers to sell Google Apps to businesses around the world. Authorized resellers will be able to sell, customize and support Google Apps Premier Edition for customers of all sizes, creating new revenue opportunities for partners and easier access to Google's popular cloud services for more businesses."

The Google Apps Premier Edition suite of communication and collaboration tools included Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, Google Sites, Google Talk, and Google Video for business.

Are Google Apps resellers behind the latest crusade for 100% document interoperability?

Tue, Sep 1, 2009

Your comment about Oracle and OpenOffice would be more appropriate to StarOffice. OpenOffice can be maintained and extended without any more permission from Sun/Oracle, but StarOffice cannot.

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