Dear Microsoft Word,

mac-vs-pc.JPGI thought I understood what was going on.
I mean, it seemed fairly reasonable. I’m writing this new story, and I’m using a lot of footnotes — a LOT of footnotes — and I’ve never used them before, and for all I know that cross-referencing and so forth might require a lot of behind-the-scenes data-tracking 1 to handle — the fact that my 35+ page document was already one and a half megabytes in size… around 1750k… well, it surprised me, I’ll admit, but I assumed it was mostly my fault for using all those footnotes.
But something happened yesterday, Microsoft Word. I was using a different laptop than normal, one on which I had tried to put my copy of Office 7. But it didn’t work — you decided that I’d hit my limit on the number of home computers on which I could install the software THAT I HAVE PURCHASED, so not only is the new Office not working, but the install wiped out the old Office 2000 install that HAD been on there.
So, out of desperation, I grabbed a copy of Open Office 3 and installed it. It was quick (the entire software suite is the same size as just the Word 7 installation), it was easy, and it was free, but even more importantly it actually let me install it on as many computers as I liked. I’ll admit that I was nervous that if I opened my super-hyper-complicated-footnotey story in Open Office, that I’d lose formatting or the footnotes would all become endnotes or the world would drop to a Blue Screen, or something.
But none of that happened.
I shut off Open Office’s inexplicable word-completion option, set hot keys for the two main special functions I needed (“Insert Footnote Here” and “Word Count”), toggled off two settings in the screen appearance, and off I went.
When I was done, I saved it and emailed myself a copy.
During the save, Open Office warned me that I might lose some OpenOffice formatting options if I saved to the Microsoft Word format — and that the size of the file itself might be affected. I sighed and confirmed the save, knowing that if the venerable Microsoft Word couldn’t squeeze my story down under a meg, the open-source, free Open Office was probably going to hand me a file that was barely small enough to be attached to an email.
The save completed, I attached the file to my email, and checked the file size.
103k.
Less than 1/12th of the size it had been before.
I reopened the file in Open Office, in a bit of a panic. All my precious words were there. 1
I opened it on another machine using Microsoft Word… and the formatting was perfect.
In short, nothing was wrong; my story’s file was just much, much much smaller.
I’m sorry to tell you this way, Microsoft Word, but we need to break up.

  • You’re using too many of my resources.
  • Your new Version 7 outfit is distracting. And not in a good way.
  • You won’t go all the places I need you to go.
  • Finally… and I hate sounding so superficial, but you’re just… you’re getting too big. And you make all my friends fat, too.

Please don’t call me; it will be hard enough seeing you every day at work.
Best regards,
Doyce


1 – By the way: “behind-the-scenes” is three words, and “data-tracking” is two. According to you, those five words only count as two; it seems like a small thing, but the way I write, believe me when I say it adds up. I like working with someone who gives me credit for what I do; you’re just not there for me when I hit Ctrl-Shift-G.

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