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September 25, 2015

There will Never be ‘Word Lite’

Filed under: Main — Tags: — admin @ 12:01 am

I get lots of email on Microsoft Word. Some of the readers really want to dig into the advanced features. Others are forced converts from the WordPerfect realm. And a few just want to write without having all those obnoxious extra features.

Those users who prefer to write unencumbered ask me the question, “Why can’t Microsoft just create a ‘Lite’ version of Word?” My answer is that they did and no one bought it.

Way, way, way back in software history, it was common for developers to create two versions of an application. The full-on, absolute power version as well as a kinder, gentler version that did the job but lacked some esoteric features.

Such an approach seems to make sense. After all, back in the day would you pay $600 for a word processor and use only 10 percent of it, or pay $60 for a word processor that didn’t include those features you’d never use?

Logic would say, “Of course, being a cheap bastard, I’ll pay for the $60 version! Better still, I’ll find a friend and copy his disks.” That’s what you’d say.

In reality, the “Lite” version of the program never sold. Yes, even at the deep discount.

As difficult as it is to believe, people had too much doubt and a lack of trust when it came to computer software. Sure, salespeople steered business customers to the $600 program to get a nice, fat commission. The general public, however, was just weary enough to question whether one of those features in the $600-full-blown version might be something they’d need. They didn’t want to get screwed.

Microsoft’s attempt to provide mere mortal users with a watered-down version of Office was a program called Microsoft Works.

I had too many people buy my Microsoft Word For Dummies book believing that it somehow covered Microsoft Works. It didn’t. And they’d be angry when they’d email me to complain that the text didn’t match their program. That may seem to justify having a “dumb” version of Word, but the consumer isn’t so easily fooled.

The watered-down software experiment was a failure, and truly a lot of developers attempted to create lite versions of their major applications. Today, no one does.

The only place lite versions are found today is on mobile devices. The lite version is either the full-on app with advertising or it’s a limited version.

But as far as any future lite versions of major applications? Don’t hold your breath.


  1. Word Lite = Word Pad, I thought came free with Windows, haven’t bumped into it yet on Win 10…

    Comment by glennp — September 25, 2015 @ 3:10 pm

  2. Word may have never had a “lite” version, but I remember other word processors did. Can’t think of any off the top of my head.

    WordPad is the Windows 95 version of Microsoft Write, which was included with earlier versions of Windows. It was based on MacWrite.

    Comment by admin — September 25, 2015 @ 3:26 pm

  3. Sorry I was thinking Word Pad as it seemed to have most of the features but not all of them. I didn’t realise there was a M$ Write (I was thinking Edit!)

    Comment by glennp — September 26, 2015 @ 4:32 am

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