Microsoft Word and Works--What's the Difference, Anyway?

What can I do with Microsoft Word that I can’t do with Microsoft Works?

Works comes preinstalled on my computer, Word costs like $150. Any real reason to cough up the dough?


(Coughing up dough, literally, would be very unpleasant.)

Works is the cheaper Microsoft Suite. There is probably no real reason for you to upgrade if you only use it for simple word processing, though I’d imagine it doesn’t support as many features or plugins. Microsoft Office also comes with Powerpoint, and as far as I know there isn’t a Works equivalent. If you are thinking about upgrading, you can also try OpenOffice, which is free.

Originally, Works was a proprietary code, incompatible with anything else on the planet. While MS-Word can be read by WordPerfect and Ami Pro (and several internet browsers), the last I knew, Works could only be read by Works or run through a converter (that lost a lot of formatting) into Word. Similarly, a Works spreadsheet could be (sort of) read by an Excel spreadsheet (at the loss of all macros and a lot of formatting) but not by much (if anything) else. This means that you can rarely export your information to anyone else who does not already have Works loaded on their machine. (And if you decide to upgrade to Office (or an Office product) or switch to a Corel or Lotus or other vendor product in the future, the odds are excellent that you will have to re-write substantial portions of your documents.)

(Things may not be quite as bleak as I portray them, but I am still bitter about the huge amount of data that Deb lost because we could not convert anything she had created under Works when she upgraded. At that time, you could not even capture the basic text in Notepad.)

There are converters that change documants in one format to that of another, there is a plug in for Works availble form microsoft that will do it.

My dad was dumb enough to listen to the computer salesman and get Works. Then he discovered he couldn’t open Word attachments from emails. He got Office.

My recommendation is to get Office 97. I personally can’t think of anything the subsequent Office iterations do better, because whatever they are, I don’t use them. Well, I guess now you can put video into PowerPoint, but that’s all I can think of. I see eBay has 96 Standard for under $60.

It’s gotten a lot better lately (i.e. in the XP era). I use Works at home and Word at work, and except for occasionally having to fix some formatting, Word reads modern Works documents just fine, though it still can’t read the older ones created with earlier versions of Works.

Nowadays, the Works word processor is sort of a Word Lite. Word has some features that Works doesn’t have (only a few of which I personally use, like the ability to switch back and forth from one to two columns within a document, and some of which I find actually annoying, like the way it insists on renumbering outlines for you).

If you have a modern version of Works, and it does everything you want, I don’t see any reason to cough up the dough for Word. If you have an older version, I’d advise saving your documents as RTF files if there’s any chance you (or anyone else) would later want to access them from Word or another word processor.

For free, I second the suggestion of OpenOffice. I’ve been using it for years, and the one time I felt I really wanted Word was because the colour palette for changing text colour couldn’t quite give me what I wanted for the address labels on my wedding invitations. I imagine, with time, a larger colour palette will be added by the developers. Otherwise, OO has been great. It not only has it’s own file extention, but it allows you to save in the various flavours of word .doc, and although it gives you a warning about losing formatting and such, the latest OO version has never actually done so.

It has an Excel equivalent, which is a little bit weaker, but still quite functional unless all you do is generate spreadsheets. It also has a Power Point equivalent, which, for the one time I needed it, was fine. Again, you can save all your work as Excel or Power Point files if you like (I tend to save everything in OO format, and only convert it if I need to mail it off to someone, or need to take it to another computer that doesn’t have OO). I had the MS Office 30-day trial, which I used to get my wedding font colour, but now it’s expired. I keep it, though, because I can open the OO files saved as MS files and make sure they look fine. Just a preview, I can’t edit them, but it’s helpful. As I said, though, it pretty much always looks ok.