Microsoft Word, word-processor software launched in 1983 by the Microsoft Corporation. Software developers Richard Brodie and Charles Simonyi joined the Microsoft team in 1981, and in 1983 they released Multi-Tool Word for computers that ran a version of the UNIX operating system (OS).
Later that year, the program was rewritten to run on personal computers (PCs), such as the IBM PC, under Microsoft’s version of DOS (disk operating system), or MS-DOS, and was renamed Microsoft Word. The product was in direct competition with WordPerfect and WordStar, both of which were introduced for PCs in 1982.
Like WordStar, Word was WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get), meaning that formatting tags were hidden and whatever a document looked like on a user’s computer screen was how it would look when printed—or at least semi-WYSIWYG, as screen fonts were not of the same quality as printer fonts. Microsoft’s program was the first to make extensive use of the computer mouse, to display styles on-screen (italic, bold, and underlined text), and to feature style sheets and multiple windows (i.e., separate work spaces for editing multiple documents).
Version 2.0, released in 1985, included spell-check and word-count options; subsequent versions included significant upgrades and improvements. In 1989 Microsoft released the first version of Word for the Windows OS, two years ahead of WordPerfect for Windows.
Word for Windows is available stand-alone or as part of the Microsoft Office suite. Word contains rudimentary desktop publishing capabilities and is the most widely used word processing program on the market.
Word 6 for Windows NT was the first 32-bit version of the product, released with Microsoft Office for Windows NT around the same time as Windows 95. It was a straightforward port of Word 6.0. Starting with Word 95, releases of Word were named after the year of its release, instead of its version number.
Word 2010 allows more customisation of the Ribbon, adds a Backstage view for file management, has improved document navigation, allows creation and embedding of screenshots, and integrates with Word Web App.
Word 2019 added the Dictate function.
The Mac was introduced January 24, 1984, and Microsoft introduced Word 1.0 for Mac a year later, on January 18, 1985. The DOS, Mac, and Windows versions are quite different from each other. Only the Mac version was WYSIWYG and used a graphical user interface, far ahead of the other platforms.
Each platform restarted its version numbering at "1.0". There was no version 2 on the Mac, but version 3 came out on January 31, 1987, as described above. Word 4.0 came out on November 6, 1990, and added automatic linking with Excel, the ability to flow text around graphics and a WYSIWYG page view editing mode. Word 5.1 for Mac, released in 1992 ran on the original 68000 CPU and was the last to be specifically designed as a Macintosh application. The later Word 6 was a Windows port and poorly received. Word 5.1 continued to run well until the last Classic MacOS. Many people continue to run Word 5.1 to this day under an emulated Mac classic system for some of its excellent features like document generation and renumbering or to access their old files.