One of the most popular posts on this blog is Why not to
use AOL, which explains in detail why you don’t want to use
AOL to deliver your email. The answer is that they don’t actually
care whether they deliver your email or not.
Before posting that, I did an extensive google search and
couldn’t find anything that explained the issue on that level of
detail, although there was of course an assumption in the
technically literate community that using AOL was a bad idea.
There are a lot of people in the technically literate
publishing community who assume something similar, but they seem
not to have actually managed to carry their point of view, because
lots of publishing opportunities which might otherwise be useful
instance) require or encourage putting your material into Word format.
So I was glad to see a post by a good
writer entitled Why
Microsoft Word must Die. (I don’t actually like much of what
I’ve read by Charlie Stross, but he’s certainly an effective
writer, and lots of people do like what he wants to write.)
His post is a bit long, but does make a number of the right
arguments very cogently.
For instance, here’s how he explains the problems the
planned obsolescence model causes even for people who never use
But as Word’s domination became established, Microsoft changed the file format repeatedly — with Word 95, Word 97, in 2000, and again in 2003 and more recently. Each new version of Word defaulted to writing a new format of file which could not be parsed by older copies of the program. If you had to exchange documents with anyone else, you could try to get them to send and receive RTF — but for the most part casual business users never really got the hang of different file formats in the “Save As …” dialog, and so if you needed to work with others you had to pay the Microsoft Danegeld on a regular basis, even if none of the new features were any use to you.
I don’t have much hope for the people who have no idea
how to use the “Save As…” dialog, but maybe the people who are
establishing publishing businesses will read this article and
think about their system.