By Steve Vitek

“Hello, my name is Steve and I am a WordPerfect user.” A thundering response from other WP users: “Hello Steve.”


We, WordPerfect users, supreme masters of the universe only a few short years ago, are now becoming almost as rare as an honest politician. I know, everybody wants to have a file in Microsoft Word these days because Bill Gates owns 80% of the market for operating systems, as well as 80% of the market for word processors. He is also getting close to 80% in the market for Internet browsers and soon will own 80% of everything from TV stations to garage door openers. He is coming to our house any way he can.

But I like WordPerfect. I think it’s a nifty program and besides, I hate to learn new software. I can’t help myself. I started using WordPerfect thirteen years ago, when WP 4.2 would still fit on a single 360 kB floppy along with the file I was working on. My Leading Edge computer had no hard disk and no modem either. Those were the days. I was possibly an even mole unsophisticated user back then. Once I plugged my vacuum cleaner into that little power socket on the back of the CPU because no other socket was nearby and promptly burned out the power source. I still think computers should come with a socket for vacuum cleaners don’t you? Better still, they should also come with a built-in shower. (Rumor has it that the next version of the iMac will have a built-in shower in five matching, translucent colors for the CPU, monitor, shower and tiles.)

The world was a better place to live in when you could still print by pressing Alt+F7 and then “p” for page or “f” for the whole file. You do it for a couple of years and never forget how once you get the hang of it. It’s like riding a bike. I miss you, Alt+F7. Is there an Alt-Control-Shift key combination heaven for old key combination commands when they die? Where do they go if there is no heaven for them? The world was full of competing word processors back then. Some translators used to swear by Nota Bene. You could open up as many files as you liked at the same time, and you could type in Russian or Hebrew or any language you wanted, they said, full of admiration for this incredible level of sophistication in a piece of software. I was tempted, but remained faithful to WordPerfect. Because WordPerfect used to treat people like people. When you got stuck on something you could call the guys and girls in Utah on a toll-free number, and they would tell you what the problem was. They were so pleasant and human back then. Times sure have changed. If you call now, you will get a runaround in an endless voice mail system, and if a human voice answers at all, they will ask you for your credit card number first. The world was a better place to live in when you could talk to a person instead of an answering machine and when this person did not ask for your money first before deciding whether to speak with you at all.

But humans who dare to challenge the notion that one standard for everything is “gooood” while two or more standards are “baaaad” may finally be starting to fight back. Red Hat Software is selling the Linux operating system, an alternative to Windows. They have two powerful incentives for you to buy what they are selling. Number 1: Bill Gates hates them. Number 2: Linux does not crash nearly as often as Windows. My WordPerfect spelling checker does not yet recognize the word Linux but WordPerfect has already issued a special version that is bundled with Linux, and they also have a Linux-compatible version of the new WordPerfect Office 2000, the only other game in town.

By the time you read this, I will have WordPerfect Office 2000 installed on my computer, if there is one. You can count on it because we WordPerfect users are not a cowardly bunch. We do not chicken out quite as easily as the gutless users of Ami, WordStar, Nota Bene, etc. and those other cowards who defected to Bill’s camp years ago. We know better than to listen to what the crowds want to dictate us to use. We will let nature be our guide-and we have found that WordPerfect is a much more natural fit when our fingers slide, with such an abundance of creative elegance, from one key to another. And that is why we will fight Microsoft Word with all our might.

We will fight MS Word on our main office computer. We may keep it on the hard disk to check conversions from WordPerfect for obstinate customers who insist on a conversion, but we will never use MS Word for real work. It’s not fit for real work. The best thing that can be said about MS Word is that its word count is usually about 3% higher than WordPerfect’s. (I give credit where credit is due, even when an evil force is involved.) That is also the real reason why we still keep MS Word on our hard disk.

We will fight MS Word on our home computers, the ones that are used mostly by our kids to play Doom, Quake and Mortal Kombat. This is our Mortal Kombat against the forces of evil! And just like our kids-we shall prevail!

We professional freelance people-watchers will fight MS Word on our laptops-the ones we bring to Café Aroma and Starbucks when we can’t stand the isolation of our office any more-to bang away on the keyboard someplace else, pretending we aren’t watching the people who pretend they aren’t watching us. We shall never surrender! Never!!!

We are pro-choice and pro-life at the same time, because we know that one standard is no choice, and no choice means death. We may not have a choice when it comes to dying, but we insist on a choice when it comes to typing! If you are a customer who is more interested in the format of my file than in my translation even though I am willing to convert the file into MS Word for you, since you insist, l am saying unto you that you are not a customer of mine any more. l have not lived my life and paid taxes all these years so that I could fit easily somebody else’s format. You’ll have to do the fitting part, my friend.

Besides, we know that we cannot lose this fight for a higher standard in everything. The most powerful force in this world, or at least in this country, is on our side, because most lawyers still use WP 5.1 for DOS. Only a few very sophisticated lawyers have graduated to WordPerfect 6.0 for Windows. The lawyers are working for us WordPerfect users, and so far they are not even charging us for it. Not even Bill Gates can make them do that. Need I say more?