The Microsoft Word reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Jul-2004
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Microsoft Word

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Microsoft Word is a word processor program from Microsoft. It was originally written by Richard Brodie for IBM PC computers running DOS in 1983. Later versions were created for the Apple Macintosh (1984), SCO UNIX (see Microsoft Word for UNIX Systems Release 5.1) and Microsoft Windows (1989). It became part of the Microsoft Office suite.

Microsoft Word XP, showing a default new documentEnlarge

Microsoft Word XP, showing a default new document

Word was the first popular word processor for the IBM PC that used a graphic display mode to show typeface markups such as bold and italics directly on the screen while editing (WYSIWYG). Previous word processors, such as WordStar and WordPerfect, used simple text-only display with markup codes on the screen or sometimes, at the most, alternate colors.

Microsoft Word is the dominant word processor in current use, making Word's proprietary file format the de facto standard which competing products must support to interoperate in an office environment. See the article word processor for a list of other word processors.

Later versions of Word have more capabilities than just word processing. The Drawing tool allows simple desktop publishing operations such as adding graphics to documents although Microsoft Publisher is obviously better at these tasks. Word also comes with rudimentary drawing tools which allow the drawing of simple diagrams or business graphics. See How to draw a diagram with Microsoft Word for a step-by-step tutorial on how to use the drawing tools to produce simple diagrams.

The document file format of Word has become a widely used de facto-standard, and interoperability though file import and export exist for many word processors such as AbiWord or OpenOffice.org. However, most interoperability is achieved through reverse engineering since documentation of the file format from Microsoft is sporadic and incomplete. Lately Microsoft has stated that they will move towards an XML-based file format for their office applications, which is hithereto only available in "professional" editions of the software. Apache Jakarta POI is an open-source Java library that can read Word's binary file format.

Like other Microsoft Office applications, it can be highly customised using a built-in macro language (originally WordBasic, but changed to Visual Basic for Applications as of Word 97). However, this capability can also be used to embed viruses in documents, as was demonstrated by the Melissa worm. Because of this, users having Microsoft Word installed should refrain from having it configured to open Microsoft Word documents received -- by email or otherwise -- from untrusted sources. In this case also, a minimum precaution is to have anti-virus software installed in order to avoid being infected by such a virus or acting as a source of infection. The first virus known to affect Microsoft Word documents was called the Concept virus, and it first appeared on a CD that was published by Microsoft.

Microsoft Word owes a lot to Bravo, the original GUI Word Processor developed at Xerox PARC. Bravo's creator Charles Simonyi left PARC to work for Microsoft in 1981.

Versions

Versions for Microsoft Windows include:

Versions for Apple Macintosh include: Versions for SCO UNIX include: