Scalzi has been playing with the Office 2007 beta and loves it. He writes:
I can say at this point that a) I really like the new organizational structure of the features up at the top (the tabs mean you don't have to drill down through several hundred menus to find functionality), and b) I sure hope MS improves its"Publish to Blog" feature, because right now it stinks; I can't get it to play with the Whatever, which is a tragedy, or even with LiveJournal, which it's supposed to be able to do. It has seamless integration with MSN Spaces, however. Yeah, I'm gonna get right on that.
If Word 2007 pans out, it'll make the case for me returning to my PC for my book writing.
I responded in the comments thread:
I 'R a riter myself, and therefore I was surprised to hear that you like writing in Word. I find Word to be way, way too heavyweight for just writing.All the formatting capabilities of Word get in the way of putting text on a page with minimal formatting--bold, italic, and, well, that's about it.
Using Word as a tool for just writing is like using a Greyhound bus for off-road driving. It's just not the right tool.
This is not me taking sides in a religious discussion, by the way--I understand that if people do need more formatting than mostly-just-plain-text, then Word is the way to go. Word is a great tool for anything as complicated as a business letter, and stuff more complicated than that as well.
The overwhelming majority of what I've written in my career is journalism. I've dabbled in fiction (unpublished just yet, but, hey, I haven't checked e-mail in five minutes and maybe an acceptance came in during that time.... ) I use a text editor, NoteTab Pro, for almost all my writing.
I do write fiction in Word, but I keep almost all the formatting turned off until I'm ready to make a printout. My drafts are single-spaced, with an extra space between paragraphs, in a proportional font (Verdana). They're meant for reading onscreen. When I'm ready to print out, I switch to Courier Dark, double-spaced, 1-inch-margins, page number and slug at the top, all that manuscript format jazz.
I've recently thought that I might be able to write drafts in NoteTab, and then import them into Word for formatting--but how would I handle underlines, used in manuscript format to indicate italics? Maybe write some kind of manuscript-formatting macro?
John, I'd love it if you wrote at length about why you prefer to write in Word rather than using just a text editor. Do you write Whatever entries in Word?
Now here's something I didn't say to John: I wrote this entry using a tool called Markdown. Took me about an hour to install, but now that I'm done I can write plain text, copy it to the clipboard, click a button in NoteTab, and then paste down perfect HTML. Neat, huh? Blogger Michael Sippey provides instructions on using Markdown on Windows, and you can just play with Markdown without installing anything using the Markdown Dingus.