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Word 5.1 Plus

I got wired
yesterday with a refrain I hear often: Word 5.1 was the epitome of word
processing on the Macintosh. And, I have to say, it’s not as though this isn’t
something we’ve considered over the years. We’ve even mocked up a couple of
versions of Word to play around with.

But, here’s the rub. If you sit down with a bunch of people and ask them
what they want in a word processor, they start from Word 5.1 as the baseline,
but they’ll, almost always, want something more. Maybe it’s Word 5.1 plus
background spell checking. Maybe it’s Word 5.1 plus scriptability. Maybe it’s
Word 5.1 plus Unicode support. Maybe it’s Word 5.1 plus AutoText. For others
still, it’s Word 5.1, but, by the way, we’d also like you to support Win Word’s
file format natively—including nested tables. And, gosh, when I get a
document from Win Word users, it’d be nice if you got the line breaks and the
page breaks the same.

What the vast majority of people want is Word 5.1 Plus. And, by the time
you add up all the “Plus’s” you come to something that’s not all that far away
from Word 2004, which is how we got here in the first place. I can still hear
the refrains from 1991 that went something like, “When are we going to get
[fill in your favorite feature here]?” You’d have a hard time convincing me
that, had we stopped at Word 5.1, someone else wouldn’t have eaten our lunch a
long time ago.

Of course it is possible to find some folks who still prefer just Word 5.1,
and I wouldn’t even be surprised to find that this group numbers in the
thousands—which is pretty close to the number of copies of Word 2004 that
we sold, in various configurations, on the first day that it was available for