There's no reason you should know this, but I used to be an expert on word processors. Every writer thinks they are, after all this is the machine they spend the best part of their day not using to write on. But I was paid for it: it was part of my patch when I worked on computer magazines.
And you know how it is, there are some jobs you can never quite shake so last year I had a really, really anorakful time following all of Microsoft's blogs about the new Word 2007. It was groundshaking, I thought, the work they were doing, the effort they were putting into the work. The way they were risking everything to get a better word processor / changing everything pointlessly to get everyone to upgrade when they didn't need to* (*delete as applicable), it was impressive.
As a writer, I particularly applauded how the core aim was to get out of your way. Having to go through five menus and a dialogue box to print something out crunches at me the same way heavy exposition does.
But in Word 2007, if you wanted something, it was to be there. No messing, no searching, absolutely and resolutely no confusion. Just writing? Off you go. Adding a chart? Wallop, every chart option is brought to your fingertips. Bit of the old page layout? Kaboom, Word 2007 is a page layout program. Sort of. Enough.
This went on for a year: inch by inch, detail by detail. I'm a Mac user, but I was still following all the Windows threads on this topic.
One day came the ta-daa, the final reveal when all this work came together in a finalised appearance. Microsoft put up screenshots for all us warmly-dressed people to admire. No messing, no searching, absolutely and resolutely no confusion.
But I stared and stared at that screenshot, utterly unable to see how to open a document.
Or start a new one.
Or save anything I did manage to open.
The reason is because all that kind of nonsense is now hidden behind a large and ugly Microsoft Office logo in the top corner. It looks like a tedious logo, it is actually a button.
That ended it for me. All that great work, totally wiped out because of last one per cent.
And I'm reminded of this today in part because I'm polishing a script but also because I'm working in an office where the staff have just had training to move over to Word 2007. And the first sentence I heard when I walked in came from a woman halfway down a hall, begging f'ing Microsoft Word to let her open a s'ing document.
And then a chorus of voices saying "It's under the c'ing Office logo".
The last one per cent is stopping people seeing the 99 per cent excellence underneath.
PS. While I'm geeking out, Word 2007 is for PCs, Macs now have Word 2008. It lacks a lot of the new whizzy features of the PC side, it adds a tonne of utterly worthless pretty pictures, but it flies far faster than the last version. So now I've no excuse at all for writing slowly.