documents in the internet age

Back in 1983 when Microsoft Word was first released, there was no public notion of the Internet, email, or clouds that weren’t made of water vapor. Files that weren’t on paper, were merely a cute abstraction.

Today, data on a server is the baseline for stored information. It’s the most reliable source. In a world where bank transactions, books, articles, wikis, Facebook and their ilk, mail, messages, and all varieties of media exist in RAM before they exist anywhere else, (precious few of which ever find it to paper), the notion of a word processor for creating documents destined for 8.5″ x 11″ sheets seems quaint and antiquated.

Yesterday heralded a new era for Microsoft, or maybe a hearkening back to its roots, when the software was more important than the platform. Some say it’s too little too late, that Microsoft was too slow to get their products on iOS, and they missed the adoption of the core users of the platform. That might be true.

More notably though, a word processor isn’t a strong fit for a tablet. You’re authoring content on a glass rectangle in your hands, and most audiences will likely consume it in a similar fashion. Why this middle-man of a format? Greeting cards, newsletters, invitations, letters, resum├ęs, announcements, all have found better homes for themselves on the Internet. If we see sharp declines in the use of Microsoft Word or other word processors, it will have more to do with people moving on from a notion of paper documents than it does from a faulty deployment strategy.

You never would have read this post if it required anything as cumbersome as being printed on a piece of paper.

March 28, 2014 at 3:11 pm

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