Word X, by Microsoft
Posted: 24-Jan-2002

4 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: Microsoft Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: Robert Schumann Class: PRODUCTIVITY

Introduction
Microsoft Word X is the ninth iteration of Word on the Mac and as such this version is an evolutionary advance. This version runs natively under Mac OS X, has a nice Aqua interface, and renders text beautifully using Quartz. But Word 2001 does run under Classic mode and there are few other new features in Word X. If you already have Word 2001, is it worth the cost of the upgrade? Word X has a suggest retail price of $399 for full product and $149 for the version upgrade
.

This software was reviewed on a Power Macintosh G4 Quicksilver 867 MHz with 1.125 GB of RAM running Mac OS X 10.2.3.

New Features
Besides being Mac OS X native, Word X has a couple of notable new features:

  • Multi-selection - You can select multiple items in paragraphs, lists, or table cells that are not contiguous. Select the first item, then hold down the Command (Apple) key, and select any additional items you want to change or format all at once. You can also use Multi-selection when finding and replacing text or formatting.
  • Clear Formatting - Under the Edit menu, you can use Clear Formats to remove and reset formatting. Clear Formatting removes any applied character and paragraph formatting, and resets the default text style.


User Interface
As expected with any native OS X application, Word X has a nice Aqua interface. Below are screen-shots of the Word X and 2001 interfaces. As you can see, interfaces are functionally identical. The Word X toolbar icons are larger and their functions are easier to interpret. One notable interface difference is the Word 5.1 Menus and toolbar are now gone.


Screenshot of Word X for Mac


Screenshot of Word 2001 for Mac


If you also use Word for Windows, you find that the menus and toolbars are similar which makes it easy to switch between platforms.

Compatibility
Word X for Mac uses the same file format as Word 98, Word 2001, as well as Word 97, Word 2000, and Word XP for Windows. Exchanging documents between platforms is easy as long as you append the extension when you save the file. Also, use fonts that are standard on both platforms for best results. I used both Word X and Word 97 for Windows to create this review.

You can now open AppleWorks 6 word processing documents as well as AppleWorks 5. I do not have AppleWorks 5 or 6 to try this. You cannot save a document to AppleWorks format, however.

Usability
After starting up the Mac, Word X initially launched in about 4 seconds and you barely see the splash screen before the Project Gallery appears. Subsequent launches took less than 2 seconds. Word X took 13 seconds to scroll through a sample 73-page document in Page Layout View. It only took 6.5 seconds for Word 2001 running under Classic to perform the same task although it seems a bit clunky and has a few display glitches. Although the operation of Word X seems to be crisp and performs solidly, it appears a bit of performance tweaking could be done.

Support
As with Word 2001, Word X has no printed manual, but it now comes with a Getting Started Book PDF file on the CD. As the title implies, this document will help you to get started, but if you want a more comprehensive manual, you have to get out the wallet for a third-party book.

The friendly Office Assistant returns with a nice improvement in the Help window. You can now print a help topic for future reference.

For further support, visit Microsoft's
Mactopia web site.

Summary
Word X is an excellent word processing application that has evolved nicely over the years. My only solid gripe is its cost. If you do want to buy Word X, consider the full Office X suite unless you have no use for Excel or PowerPoint. Office X costs relatively little more and there are more deals available. Also, consider the Mac OS X compatible ThinkFree Office or OpenOffice for a fraction of the cost.

Pros

  • Native for OS X
  • Aqua interface
  • Solid performance
  • Excellent compatibility with Word for Windows documents
  • Getting Started PDF file now included on CD

Cons

  • Expensive to buy or upgrade
  • No paper user manual


Overall Rating:

4 out of 5 Mice