Microsoft Word, the seemingly ubiquitous word processing program, is a shining example of how product quality and market share can be mutually exclusive considerations.
The best word processing program ever developed, in my opinion, was WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS, released in 1989. It was fast and clean, with lots of bells & whistles for its day. Once you learned how the function keys operated, you could fly through a document as fast as your fingers could type. In terms of document formatting, it did what you wanted it to, rather than what some control freak programmer assumed you wanted it to do.
I have no time studies to support this point, but my writing productivity as a professor declined when I was more or less obliged to switch from WordPerfect 5.1 to MS Word for Windows. Word was, and remains, slower, more cumbersome, and more outrageously control freakish. For basic text documents with footnotes and other features of academic writing, it is a burdensome program. Writing a scholarly article with Word is an annoying chore.
Even worse, the dear folks at Microsoft have heaped upon us Word 2007. My school just switched over to this version, and I’m hoping our computer staff will be able to reinstall the old one on my machine. Word 2007 is no better than its predecessors, but it offers the added bonus of a substantially changed menu that only inflicts more frustration onto the experience of using this deficient product.
In sum, Microsoft Word is a lousy word processing program, and Word 2007 shows us how a product can undergo a considerable revision without being materially improved. The folks at Microsoft may be laughing all the way to the bank, but they are doing so at the expense of office productivity around the world.