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As I write this article using Google Docs, I can't help wondering whether Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer really believed when he publicly told two Gartner analysts last week on stage that nobody uses it. Is Ballmer in denial or privately sweating bullets?

There are not many users who would dispute that Microsoft Office is probably the best and certainly the most widely used office productivity package on the market today. It is also the most massively over-engineered software suite that has no relevance for the average user.

In stark contrast, Google Docs, with a small but fast growing user base, is very basic - Ballmer calls it primitive. Referring to the Google Docs word processor, Ballmer sneeringly shouted to Gartner analysts Neil MacDonald and David Mitchell, "You can't even do a footnote!"

Well Steve, that's not true! Looking at my simple easy to understand Google Docs menu bar, I went to the Insert menu and found a selection item called "Footnote" that allows me to do a footnote. If I'm not mistaken, Google may have even responded to your jibe - and it's interesting to note how quickly they responded!

The thing is though, in my 25 years of using word processors, including all my time as a journalist, I can't remember a single occasion where I have ever needed to do a footnote.

If I was a professional historian or writing an academic paper or thesis, then I would certainly need to use footnotes. Perhaps then I would need to use Microsoft Word or the OpenOffice word processor.

However, most of us are not professional historians. We're just ordinary users who need a word processor that is easy to use and just works.

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Stan Beer

 

Stan Beer co-founded iTWire in 2005. With 30 plus years of experience working in IT and Australian technology media, Beer has published articles in most of the IT publications that have mattered, including the AFR, The Australian, SMH, The Age, as well as a multitude of trade publications.

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