Microsoft Word 6

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On: 2023-12-23 12:24:52
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  • MS-Word 6 

What is Microsoft Word 6?

The latest version of the Macintosh world’s most popular word processor has been out for several months now. It’s been lynched online and at user groups, it’s been tossed in the Trash and returned to dealers, and it’s lost market share to Novell’s WordPerfect, which had for years been a relatively minor player among high-end Mac word processors.

What happened? Three things: First, Microsoft made Word’s interface identical to that of Word 6.0 for Windows, and the differences annoyed many 5.1 loyalists. Second, Microsoft included such a huge array of add-on utilities, document templates, and gimmicky autoformatting Wizards that a full installation of Word 6 swallows 25MB of hard disk space. Third and most significant, Microsoft shipped a program that is often dramatically slower than its predecessor — so much so that it doesn’t run acceptably on 68030-based Macs, or even on slower 68040 Macs such as the Quadra 610.

Some of Word’s reported performance problems are genuine, but much of the criticism leveled against the program has been a bit overblown. There are flashes of brilliance in Word 6, and the new cross-platform compatibility is a boon to businesses that mix Macs and Windows machines. But before you upgrade, you need to weigh Word’s innovations against its greed for hard disk space and horsepower.

A Fancy Face-lift

Word 6 sports an entirely new look and feel, featuring a multitude of tool bars and attractive 3-D dialog boxes, many of which display previews as you select formatting options... I’m not a big tool-bar fan — when I’m writing, my hands spend far more time on the keyboard than on the mouse. Fortunately, you can hide all the tool bars or show only those that you use. You can create your own tool bars, which you can also turn into floating palettes.

Word 6 joins WordPerfect and Claris’s MacWrite Pro in providing zoom features that let you magnify or shrink a document while still being able to edit it. You can also edit a document and adjust ruler settings in Word 6’s greatly enhanced Print Preview window — something WordPerfect doesn’t allow.

Word 6’s ruler is a good example of the good news/bad news changes that Microsoft has made, adjusting column widths is much easier than in Word 5.1. Also, a new vertical ruler appears when you’re in page-layout view and lets you adjust top and bottom margins. And best of all, if you press the option key while dragging any ruler or tab marker. Word displays precise numeric measurements in the ruler itself. That’s useful because the bad news is that Word 6, unlike its predecessor, doesn’t let you adjust the ruler’s tab or margin markers while the Paragraph or Tabs dialog box is open.

Word has always been a shortcut-lover’s paradise, and Word 6 continues the tradition. New, context-sensitive shortcut menus appear when you click on something while pressing the control key. You can also rearrange the menus and redefine Word’s keyboard shortcuts. And there’s a new and powerful macro language, WordBasic, that lets you automate repetitive tasks and even create customized dialog boxes.

Features, Features, Features

Word 6 provides dozens of typing, editing, and formatting enhancements. The AutoCorrect feature fixes common typos as you type; it’s also a great way to store and recall often-used text, as is the AutoText feature, which replaces Word 5.1's clumsy Glossary command. The Smart Cut and Paste feature makes sure you don’t have too many or too few word spaces when you move text around. You can drag and drop text or graphics from one document window to another. You can format a word without first selecting it — just put the blinking insertion point anywhere within it. You can set up style sheets that work on a character level instead of the paragraph-level styles Word 5 was limited to. You can undo and redo up to 100 actions. You can create electronic bookmarks that let you navigate large documents easily.

For heavy-duty document processing. Word 6 sports automatic numbering, captioning, and cross-referencing features that streamline the process of adding figures and referring to them in the text. Word’s table-of-contents and index features offer more formatting options than do other word processors. As a tool for producing books and manuals, Word 6 compares favorably with technical publishing programs such as Frame Technology’s FrameMaker.

For workgroup projects. Word provides an amazing new revision-tracking feature that lets editors modify a document while retaining its original contents. You can then step through each revision and decide whether to incorporate it or restore the original text. The annotations feature, which lets you attach typed or spoken comments to a document, is also easier to use and more powerful than its Word 5 counterpart.

Word 6’s table editor is light-years ahead of Word 5’s. You can adjust column widths by dragging column boundaries, you can add borders and shading using the new Borders tool bar, and you can even create spreadsheetlike formulas that calculate the values in a table. There’s also a built-in forms feature that lets you set up FileMaker Pro-like data-entry forms, complete with pop-up menus and buttons.

Word 6’s macro and customizing features go well beyond any competing program’s. You can work with macros on a simple level — recording tasks as you perform them and then playing them back later — or you can dive into Word’s macro language, WordBasic, to create macros that exchange data with other programs, display customized dialog boxes and then perform actions depending on your responses, and execute AppleScript scripts. In the customizing vein, you can add and remove not only menu commands, but entire menus. Macros and custom menus are stored in template documents. By combining macros with Word’s menu malleability, a corporate programmer or consultant can create a customized word processing application containing only those commands needed to perform a specific task, such as completing insurance claim forms or customizing a boilerplate contract.

Performance Problems

What price do you pay for all this power? Time. Word 6 just feels less responsive than WordPerfect 3.1, even though my tests show Word 6 to be faster at scrolling, at searching and replacing, and at switching from a one-column format to a three-column format.

Word 6 is slowest at launching, taking nearly 30 seconds to start up on my Quadra 840AV. Word 5.1 and WordPerfect 3.1, by comparison, launch in about 10 seconds. On my PowerBook 170, Word 6 takes a nearly a minute to launch. The program’s View menu is unusually sluggish, often taking a second or two to appear after you click on its title.

Word 6’s Word Count command appears to be snail-like, but in a way, it’s faster than Word 5.1’s. Unlike Word 5.1 and WordPerfect 3.1, Word 6 displays an approximate word count instantly, and then proceeds to count every word to arrive at an exact count. It’s this second phase that takes forever.

The Last Word

But what constitutes good performance: how quickly a program launches or how quickly it lets you finish your work? If you can benefit from Word’s laundry list of new automation features — cross-referencing, AutoText, automatic numbering and renumbering, macros — you stand a good chance of saving more time over the course of a day than you’ll lose waiting for Word to start up. If your needs are more basic — if you just want to use a word processor to, say, write — forget Word 6 and WordPerfect and get ClarisWorks or SoftKey International’s WriteNow.

But if you can put Word 6’s features to work and if you have a Quadra 650 or faster Mac, take the plunge, but use the Custom Install option to pare down the program’s disk-space requirements. If you have a slower 68040 Mac, think twice. And if you have a 68030 Mac, think WordPerfect.

Heid, Jim. (February 1995). Microsoft Word 6.0. Macworld. (pgs. 52-53).

Download Microsoft Word 6 for Mac

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Motorola 68K

System Requirements

From Mac OS 7.0 up to Mac OS 8.1

Compatibility notes

Architecture: 68k PPC

Minimum Requirements:
68030 (68040 Recommended)
4 MB RAM (8 MB Recommended)
10 MB Hard Drive Space
System 7.0

Opens and runs under SheepShaver, but crashes the entire environment when you try to save a file. It doesn't just take down the Mac OS 9 emulated environment, it borks SheepShaver itself. Have never seen that happen before.

Emulating this? It could probably run under: Basilisk II

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