Microsoft Works

… I’m talking about the “office suite” known as Microsoft Works. I’m not suggesting that Microsoft works.

Increasingly, more an more people don’t know what Microsoft Works is because it has fallen into increasing obscurity. It is a kind of office suite that has a word processor, spread sheet, and maybe some other stuff. It is very inexpensive compared to, say MS Office.

In years gone by I’ve taught a number of classes designed for High School Teachers. I discovered that a lot of teachers used MS Works. I discovered this the hard way when I started receiving assignments and other documents in a format that could not be opened by any software on my computer (then a Windows computer). At that point in time, anyway, even Microsoft Office would not read Works files.

The reason that I even mention this is because Microsoft is now launching, mainly overseas (which to MS means outside the US) a version of Works (SE) that shows ads while you are using it. This makes it free for computer manufacturers to add to the other annoying and useless crap they bundle on the hard drive of your new computer.

I also mention this because if you use Microsoft Works, please understand that nobody else uses it any you won’t be able to exchange files with other people. And people will think you are a dweeb, even if you are not. (I quickly add to the person who just last week sent me a Works document: I do not think you are a dweeb!)

In addition, I have a recommendation for those who wish to have a full featured, stable, powerful word processor, spread sheet, etc. and would prefer to pay a very low price for it: OpenOffice. It runs on Windows, Mac and Linux machines and is quite nice. You can get more information about it here.

Comments

  1. #1 Paul Lamb
    April 20, 2008

    I thought from the start that Works was always intended to be useless, or at least very quickly outgrown. It’s minimal range of features would frustrate users, who would then step up to the more expensive Microsoft programs like Word, Excel, and (gag) PowerPoint.

  2. #2 John
    April 20, 2008

    The early failure of Microsoft to create file formats that would be easily opened even by other MS programs was really annoying. I think that is fixed now, though. Still, probably the best way to transfer simple document files between programs is to use txt or rtf.

    I also like AbiWord as a light-weight word processor.

  3. #3 Jeff Darcy
    April 20, 2008

    I’d love to be able to suggest OpenOffice so unreservedly. Unfortunately, I can’t. I’ve had people complain that they couldn’t read OpenOffice documents I sent them, even though they were OpenOffice users themselves. I used to think they must have just screwed something up themselves, except that I have one machine on which OpenOffice just won’t run without hanging for no apparent reason and another on which it has this annoying habit of asking me to “recover” documents I haven’t worked on for a year. I know more than a little bit about how to install and configure Linux software, and there’s no obvious problem in either case except for the code itself. I don’t have any more faith in Sun (the primary entity behind OpenOffice) than in Microsoft, on either a technical or a moral level.

  4. #4 JYB
    April 20, 2008

    For Macs, NeoOffice is a OpenOffice but runs natively. Every once in awhile you get a pop up thingy but other than that it works great.

  5. #5 chezjake
    April 20, 2008

    Like much of Microsoft’s early software, Works was first designed and marketed for the Macintosh, in 1986. Shortly thereafter version 1.12 for DOS machines was released. Version 2.0, released in late 1987, worked with Windows 2.0. Version 3.0 from 1990 actually featured file exchange compatibility between Macs and Windows 3.0 machines.

    All of these early versions were marketed to the student/home user market and were never intended as business software. One of the best features of early versions of Works was a relatively robust flat database that was easily configured and could produce a wide variety of reports. Of course, all of that was before widespread use of the internet, so file transfer/compatibility was a relatively minor issue. Most users only wanted to print out their documents.

  6. #6 Tristram Brelstaff
    April 21, 2008

    … the other annoying and useless crap they bundle on the hard drive of your new computer.

    Surely, you can’t be referring to Windows Vista?

  7. #7 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 21, 2008

    As the sole IT manager for a mid to large sized distribution company I used to constantly get emails from employees here asking me if I can open a .wps file for them. “It’s a resume I need to read.”

    If you are submitting a resume, please use OpenOffice, Office or even create a PDF.

    Works is a pain in everyone’s ass.

Current ye@r *