MS will help us find the right words?

Subject: MS will help us find the right words?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: TECHWR-L Writing <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, Jay Maechtlen <techwriter -at- covad -dot- net>
Date: Sat, 21 Feb 2009 07:31:11 -0500

Jay Maechtlen reports Microsoft's "Next Generation Writing
Assistance": <<http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/projects/WritingAssistance/default.aspx
"This project is working to develop tools that will help writers by
showing them some of the alternative ways by which they can express
their ideas." (why do I keep thinking of a paperclip?)>>

Possibly because a company whose flagship product (Office) still, in
2009, can't tell that most correctly spelled nouns with an "s" at the
end of the word is a properly spelled English plural, and with an
apostrophe-s is a correctly formed possessive? My AtariWriter software
knew both patterns more than 20 years ago, as well as several other
plural forms.

Possibly because the same company still, after more than a decade,
hasn't bothered to fix one of the single most time-wasting software
bugs in computer history (autonumbering)? Particularly when the
solution (using SEQ fields) could be implemented with about a day of
programming?* I suppose pretty "ribbons" are more useful?

* OK, the regression testing would take much, much longer. Still...
Where are their priorities?

On the plus side, I work primarily as an editor. Based on the state of
Microsoft's grammar tools, I see Microsoft's efforts to improve how
writers write in the future as a guaranteed source of future income.
But I have mixed feelings about the ethics of enthusiastically
supporting this kind of automatically generated incompetence.

--------------------------------------------------------
Geoff Hart (www.geoff-hart.com)
ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca / geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com
--------------------------------------------------------
***Now available*** _Effective onscreen editing_
(http://www.geoff-hart.com/books/eoe/onscreen-book.htm)

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MS will help us find the right words?: From: Jay Maechtlen

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