Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 159 / DECEMBER 1993 / PAGE 116

Microsoft Word 6.0, WordPerfect 6.0 for DOS. (word processing software) (Software Review) (Evaluation)
by Phillip Morgan

The latest releases of WordPerfect and Microsoft Word are proof that powerful DOS word processing isn't dead. Both programs incorporate features previously found only in Windows applications while Windows applications while retaining the speed of DOS text mode.

The two programs have several similar new features such as drag-and-drop text editing, built-in support for graphic fonts, and optical controls bars. Both programs are shipped with dedicated versions of the Grammatik grammar checker.

But despite surface similarities, Microsoft Word for MS-DOS 6.0 and WordPerfect 6.0 for DOS aren't as comparable as their predecessors were; they each suit very different needs. For example, if you're using a 286 with a 40MB drive, then Word may be the better choice. The program takes less than 6MB for a full installation, requires only 384K of RAM, and minimally taxes your processor. On the other hand, if you have a fast 386 or better, at least 520K of RAM, and can afford 16MB of hard disk space, WorPerfect is a considerably more flexible program, with impressive spreadsheet, fax, sound, presentation, and desktop publishing capabilities.

WordPerfect 6.0 offers the best of versions 5.1 for DOS and 5.2 for Windows and adds several new features of its own. You can wrap text around irregular graphics, print postal bar codes fro bulk mail, and open up to nine documents. This last enhancement was long overdue, and while it's still limited compared to Word--in which you're limited only by available memory--it beats the old two-document limit.

The program lets you switch between text mode and a Windows-like graphical interface at any time. You can compose and edit with the speed of text mode and then switch to VGA graphic mode to place your pictures and make your other layout decisions. The graphic mode, however, is sluggish compared to Windows applications. Screen redraws can be painfully slow when you're using pictures or soft fonts in your document, even on a 33-MHz 486DX with 8MB of memory.

Word 6.0 is a capable DOS program that offers you many (but not all) of the features of Word for Windows 2.0. It table-creating tool and TrueType fonts are Windows carryovers, as are drag-and-drop editing and automatic bulleting. The program is probably intended to prepare DOS users for theeventual switch to Windows. If you own a 286 or slow 386 but plan to upgrade to faster equipment in the future, you can buy Word 6.0 now and upgrade late for Word or Windows 6.0 (Microsoft skipped from 2.0 to 6.0 to bring the version numbers in line) for free under Microsoft's dual-license agreement.

One of the most significant improvements to both Word and WordPerfect is the built-in capability to handle graphic soft fonts. Both support scalable TrueType fonts; WordPerfect also supports Type 1, CG intellifont, and Bitstream Speedo fonts. To prevent printer files from becoming too large, Microsoft suggests that you not install more than 5 new fonts at a time and no more than 20 total. WordPerfect's documentation mentions so such limitation.

Unfortunately, "deep architectural problems" prevent Word 6.0 from printing True Type fonts as text on the popular Hewlett-Packard DeskJet printer. This problem doesn't exist with other ink-jet printers, and Microsoft says third-party software is available which will allow you to print TrueType as well as other graphic fonts on your DeskJet.

Like WordPerfect, Word allows you to switch between text and graphic modes on the fly. However, there's a big difference between what each program calls graphic. Word can give you bold, underline, and italic screen fonts as well as a preview of special characters, but it's not comparable to WordPerfect's WYSIWYG.

Depending on your word processing needs and hardware, the choice between the latest versions of Word and WordPerfect should be a clear one. If you need maximum speed with minimum hardware, take a good look at Word. If you need more from your word processor than just word processing and have the computing power to back it up, WordPerfect has versatility to spare.