Microsoft Word is a word processor developed 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), Apple Macintosh running Mac OS (1985), AT&T Unix PC (1985), Atari ST (1988), OS/2 (1989), Microsoft Windows (1989) and SCO Unix (1994). Commercial versions of Word are licensed as a standalone product or as a component of Microsoft Office, Windows RT or the discontinued Microsoft Works suite. Microsoft Word Viewer and Office Online are Freeware editions of Word with limited features.
Word for Windows
A full-featured word processing program for Windows and OS X from Microsoft. Available stand-alone or as part of the Microsoft Office suite, Word contains rudimentary desktop publishing capabilities and is the most widely used word processing program on the market. Word files are commonly used as the format for sending text documents via e-mail because almost every user with a computer can read a Word document by using the Word application, a Word viewer or a word processor that imports the Word format (see Microsoft Word Viewer). Word 6 for Windows NT was the first 32-bit version of the product, released with Microsoft Office for Windows NT around the same time as Windows 95. It was a straightforward port of Word 6.0. 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 Word Web App.
Binary formats (Word 97–2007)
During the late 1990s and early 2000s, the default Word document format (.DOC) became a de facto standard of document file formats for Microsoft Office users. There are different versions of “Word Document Format” used by default in Word 97–2007. Each binary word file is an OLE Compound File, a hierarchical file system within a file. According to Joel Spolsky, Word Binary File Format is extremely complex mainly because its developers had to accommodate an overwhelming number of features and prioritize performance over anything else.
As with all OLE Compound Files, Word Binary Format consists of “storages”, which are analogous to computer folders, and “streams”, which are similar to computer files. Each storage may contain streams or other storages. Each Word Binary File must contain a stream called “WordDocument” stream and this stream must start with a File Information Block (FIB). FIB serves as the first point of reference for locating everything else, such as where the text in a Word document starts, ends, what version of Word created the document and other attributes.
Word 2007 and later continue to support the DOC file format, although it is no longer the default.
Before Word 2010 (Word 14) for Windows, the program was unable to correctly 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.
In Word 2004 for Mac OS X, 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.
Bullets and numbering
Microsoft Word supports bullet lists and numbered lists. It also features a numbering system that helps add correct numbers to pages, chapters, headers, footnotes, and entries of tables of content; these numbers automatically change to correct ones as new items are added or existing items are deleted. Bullets and numbering can be applied directly to paragraphs and convert them to lists. Word 97 through 2003, however, had problems adding correct numbers to numbered lists. In particular, a second irrelevant numbered list might have not started with number one, but instead resumed numbering after the last numbered list. Although Word 97 supported a hidden marker that said the list numbering must restart afterwards, the command to insert this marker (Restart Numbering command) was only added in Word 2003. However, if one cut the first item of the listed and pasted it as another item, e.g. fifth, the restart marker would have moved with it and the list would have restarted in the middle instead of at the top.
Users can also create tables in Word. Depending on the version, Word can perform simple calculations. Formulae are supported as well.
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, AutoSummarize cuts wordy copy to the bone by counting words and ranking sentences. First, AutoSummarize identifies the most common words in the document (barring “a” and “the” and the like) and assigns a “score” to each word – the more frequently a word is used, the higher the score. Then, it “averages” 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.
AutoSummarize was removed from Microsoft Word for Mac OS X 2011, although it was present in Word for Mac 2008. AutoSummarize was removed from the Office 2010 release version (14) as well.
A Macro is a rule of pattern that specifies how a certain input sequence (often a sequence of characters) should be mapped to an output sequence according to defined process. Frequently used or repetitive sequences of keystrokes and mouse movements can be automated. 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 virus, but countless others have existed.
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 OS X system up until the advent of video codec trojans 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.