Microsoft Word is the most popular — and the most recognized — type of word processing software in the world. It’s used by K-12 students, undergraduate and graduate college students, and many of the professionals who teach all those different types of students. It’s also a top choice of many business professionals, and the software often comes pre-installed on many Windows-based desktop and laptop computers purchased for business or personal use.
However, even the most popular software in the world has some drawbacks. Microsoft Word certainly offers some advantages to users, but it comes with a few disadvantages as well. It’s important to understand and weigh these shortcomings before using the software, particularly if you have a project or paper due that requires certain attributes or functions. Here’s what you need to know about the disadvantages and advantages of Microsoft Word.
Microsoft Word Is Not Always User-Friendly
In the mid-1990s, users had several popular choices when it came to word processing software, and many preferred WordPerfect, designed and sold by a lesser-known company called Corel. However, WordPerfect has never completely disappeared, but Word definitely turned things around and cornered the market by the late 1990s.
In the beginning, Word was fairly easy to use, and users were able to learn how to use it pretty quickly. As the years went on, however, more features were added to the software to expand its capabilities, and it rolled out the "ribbon" toolbar to replace the old drop-down menu. Users found it exceedingly hard to use and were also annoyed by the fact that everything had moved.
It was also the combination of hats the software tried to wear that made it awkward to try to learn for the first time. The software’s most recent versions attempt to serve as a combination desktop publisher and word processing program, but having too many options on the screen can be overwhelming and frustrating for users.
Additionally, all the meta information now stored in each file can weigh it down and cause bulky, overly large files if you try to add just an image or two. Large file sizes quickly become a problem when they need to be shared. Standard email programs like Gmail refuse to send files over a certain size, prompting you to have to send files through Dropbox or Google Drive
The Software Is Prone to Virus Attacks
You may not hear about hackers in the news as much as you did several years ago when widespread hacking by the average computer nerd was still a new thing, but software is still just as vulnerable to attacks as it ever was. In fact, Microsoft Word’s popularity and frequent use for sensitive documents make it a prime target of hackers and virus attacks.
Because Word is the most popular word processing software in the world, it’s practically on every computer in the world ― even those with non-Windows operating platforms. If you’re a Mac owner, you may have a Mac version of Word or at least have some .doc or .docx files on your computer. If you share these files with others, you must be extra careful to make sure they aren’t corrupted.
The Microsoft Office Suite and Microsoft Word Are Usually Expensive
If you have the Microsoft Office Suite of products or even just Microsoft Word pre-installed on a computer you purchase, it’s very likely that it’s only a trial membership that lasts for a short time or a temporary license that expires after a year. That means you will have to purchase the software or the Microsoft Office Suite at some point.
You can purchase Microsoft Words in a few different ways these days. If you will need other products in the Microsoft family, then purchasing the full Microsoft Office Suite is the best choice, but customers commonly complain about the expense.
What Are the Advantages of Using Microsoft Word?
Because of some of the disadvantages of using Microsoft Word, many business people and college students love using Google Docs or similar types of online programs for completing, storing and sharing their academic and professional work, but they do miss out on some of the amazing things Microsoft Word can do when they make that choice. After all, Word didn’t get to be the top word processing software in the world by having more negatives than positives.
One of the things the software does very well is make corrections as you type. Of course, it doesn’t catch every mistake, and you still have to proofread, but it often corrects spelling and grammar mistakes without wasting time underlining items for you to manually check. Those red (spelling) and blue (grammar) underlines are still there to help you when autocorrect isn’t quite sure what to do, but the correct-as-you-type feature is definitely a huge time saver.
When it comes to writing academic papers, Word allows you to select a writing style, such as Modern Language Association (MLA), which is very popular with college professors. You can add each source in as you’re writing your paper and then populate the bibliography at the end without any headaches. You can also create a table of contents or an index, depending on the type of project you need to create. When you’re all finished, convert your .docx files to different formats, such as Google Docs or PDFs, if necessary.
It’s possible to add images to your documents, and you can create tables and spreadsheets, although Microsoft Excel will always be the gold standard for complex spreadsheets with more than a few simple functions. If you’re sharing the document with others for feedback or improvements, you can make changes in "suggest" editing mode to allow others to review the changes.
If you ever get stuck and can’t figure out how to do something in Microsoft Word, you can type the topic into the Help or Search functions to get help finding the answer you need. Microsoft Word is definitely a complex program, but it accomplishes a multitude of complex tasks. In general, users all over the world agree that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.