Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 161 / FEBRUARY 1994 / PAGE 86

Microsoft Word for Windows 6.0. (word processing software) (Software Review) (Productivity Choice) (Evaluation)
by Clifton Karnes

Everyday tasks and advanced applications couldn't be easier with the latest version of this top-of-the-line word processor.

If you're looking for a Windows word processor, you've got to check out Word for Windows 6.0. It's simply the best word processor I've seen.

"Wait a minute," I hear you say. "I thought the last version of Word for Windows was 2.0. Shouldn't this be version 3.0?" It should, but Microsoft has upped the number to 6.0 to give the Windows product the same version number as Word for the Mac (both programs have the same functionality). And a version number of 6.0 helps Microsoft go head to head with competitor WordPerfect and its new 6.0 for Windows.

What's so new and improved about this version of Word? In a word, plenty Word 6.0 is based on exhaustive research into what users want in a word processor and how they use word processors. Everywhere in this new version, you'll find new modules that make everyday tasks easier.

AutoCorrect is one of these new features. It automatically corrects common typing and spelling mistakes (like typing don;t instead of don't), and it will optionally capitalize the first letter of each sentence for you and change regular quotes to smart quotes. You can add your own words to AutoCorrect's translation table, and you can turn this feature on or off.

AutoFormat, as the name implies, automatically formats text for you. When you click on the AutoFormat button on the toolbar, your document is formatted with a default style. You can review your formatting and accept it, reject it, or change it to any of more than 25 available formats.

AutoSelect is another feature that adds intelligence to the way Word works with text. With AutoSelect, a mouse double-click selects a word, a triple-click selects a paragraph, a Ctrl-click selects a sentence, and a click, Shift-click pair selects a block.

And AutoText (this is the last feature named Auto-Something) inserts boilerplate text much like the glossary does in previous versions of Word.

Word has always had excellent formatting control, but the new features in 6.0 make formats even easier to manipulate. The most impressive formatting tool is Format Painter, which you see to copy formatting from one part of your document to another. To copy a format, select the text with the format you want to copy, click on the Format Painter icon on the toolbar, and drag the pointer to select the text you want to change. It's fast, easy, and intuitive. And if you make a mistake, Word's next new feature can help out.

One of the features I used most in Word 2.0 was Undo. If I goofed, I pressed Ctrl-Z to undo the last act of violence to my text. Unfortunately, once isn't enough when it comes to Undo, since you often don't realize you've made a mistake until you're several keystrokes past the error.

Word 6.0 comes to the rescue with a 100-level undo command. This undo is mirrored by a 100-level redo, both of which take the terror out of experimenting. You can even select a group of actions to undo or redo from a combo box, so a large number of edits can be corrected in one step.

Word for Windows was one of the first programs to use a toolbar, and this version carries toolbar technology even further than its predecessors. Word 6.0 can display as many as eight toolbars, including standard, formatting, borders, database, drawing, forms, Microsoft applications, and Word for Windows 2.0 (which emulates Word 2.0's toolbar). Besides adding color to the toolbar buttons, Word 6.0 has a new toolbar help feature. If you hold the mouse pointer over a button for more than a second, you'll see a small yellow window appear that tells what the button does. After you've mastered the toolbar, you can turn off this feature, if you wish.

Most people would agree that a toolbar makes using a program like Word faster and easier, but sometimes it's a pain to have to move the mouse all the way up to the toolbar to change something. Word 6.0 has a new feature that lets you access a special context-sensitive menu by clicking the right mouse button anywhere in your document. Click the right mouse button in the text area, for example, and you'll see the options Cut, Copy, Paste, Font, Paragraph, and Bullets and Numbering.

One area in which Word 6.0 has really improved is document views. Now you can view your document in modes that magnify from 10 to 200 percent by choosing from a combo box on the toolbar. And Word now has a full-screen view. In this mode, the document is maximized so it completely fills the screen, eliminating all borders, menus, and bars. All you see is a white page with your document. You can still access your menus by moving the mouse pointer to the top of the screen or by pressing the menu access keys (Alt-F for File, for example).

One of Word 6.0's biggest innovations is its support for OLE 2.0. OLE (Object Linking and Embedding) is a software specification that makes it very easy to create and edit compound documents--documents that contain elements from different applications. OLE 1.0 allows you to embed data from one document in another and, by double-clicking on the embedded document, to summon its creator for in-place editing.

OLE 2.0 goes far beyond this, however, transforming the containing document into the creating document. When you edit elements from several applications in a single compound document, double-clicking on one turns your container application into the creating application.

OLE 2.0 also supports drag and drop between documents, so you can drag a chart from Excel to Word, for example. There aren't many applications that support OLE 2.0 yet, but there will be more as time goes by. It's the wave of the future.

Another area where Word has made a big step forward is with WordArt, the program's built-in-text-effects module. With Word 2.0, WordArt is limited to a few custom fonts and a small number of text alterations. Now it's a full OLE 2.0 server. It now supports all your fonts and offers tons of text manipulation techniques.

In addition to WordArt, drawing has been improved greatly. Word 6.0 sports a move powerful drawing package complete with a drawing tool bar that appears on the status line. The drawing module can layer drawings and has special support for creating watermarks and call-outs.

I haven't begun to cover all of the new features in Word 6.0, but since I'm running out of space, here's a laundry list of some of the other neat things you'll find: wizards (which walk you through creating certain types of documents), forms templates, Tip of the Day (which pops up when you start Word and displays a tip on using the product), tabbed dialogs (which use a folder metaphor to make complex dialogs easier to master), a longer list of recently used filed (which shows as many as nine of the most recently used files on your File menu), the Insert Symbol command (which makes it easier to work with special characters), and last, but certainly not least, Word count (which, as you might guess, tells you the number of words in a document). It's taken Word ten years to get Word Count, and I'm happy to see it.

That's a whirlwind tour of the new World for Windows 6.0. It's na superb writing tool that won't let you down. If you don't have a Windows word processor yet or if you're thinking about switching, try Word for Windows 6.0. You won't be disappointed.