Microsoft Word

Last Updated: August 30, 2019

Definition - What does Microsoft Word mean?

Microsoft Word is a widely used commercial word processor designed by Microsoft. Microsoft Word is a component of the Microsoft Office suite of productivity software, but can also be purchased as a stand-alone product.

It was initially launched in 1983 and has since been revised numerous times. Microsoft Word is available for both Windows and Macintosh operating systems.

Microsoft Word is often called simply Word or MS Word.

Techopedia explains Microsoft Word

In 1981, Microsoft hired Charles Simonyi to develop a word-processing application. The first version was released in 1983. It was not initially popular, owing to its radically different look compared to WordPerfect, the leading word processor at that time. However, Microsoft improved Word continually over the years, including a 1985 version that could run on a Mac. The second major release of Word, in 1987, included an upgrade of major features in addition to new functionalities such as support for the rich text format (RTF).

In 1995, with the release of Windows 95 and Office 95, which offered a bundled set of office productivity software, sales of Microsoft Word increased significantly.

Microsoft Word offers several features to ease document creation and editing, including:

  • WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) display: It ensures that everything displayed on screen appears the same way when printed or moved to another format or program.
  • Spell check: Word features a built-in dictionary for spell checking; misspelled words are marked with a red squiggly underline. Sometimes, Word auto-corrects an obviously misspelled word or phrase.
  • Text-level features such as bold, underline, italic and strike-through
  • Page-level features such as indentation, paragraphing and justification
  • External support: Word is compatible with many other programs, the most common being the other members of the Office suite.

The default file format was .doc prior to the Microsoft Word 2007 version; in 2007, .docx became the default file format.

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