[texhax] MS Word & Mathtype to TeX

Barbara Beeton bnb at ams.org
Mon Dec 19 22:23:20 CET 2011

On Mon, 19 Dec 2011, cornwall_5 at comcast.net wrote:

    I 10000% agree with, sympathize, and understand the needs of the
    reviewers and editors of journals for a universal and stable-over-time
    program for typesetting math.

    But, my question is: why can't that universal and stable program be MS
    Word? (+ Design Science's Mathtype)

it would be lovely if ms word were stable,
but it isn't.  ms is *not* interested in
stability.  it is interested in income.
(rather comparable to "churning" in the
investments business, it seems to me.)

design science may be more conservative;
i'm not sure.  but i find it likely that
they are as upset about the behavior of
word changing under their feet as are
other users.  that makes their investment
less valuable, in that they have to
"catch up" with every ms "improvement".
it's expensive for them too.



    Can journals not afford a new version of MS Word once every ten years? 

if it were only every ten years, that
wouldn't be so bad, but it's really much
more frequent than that.  also, it's not
a matter of a single new copy of a new
version; it requires a license for every
single person in the organization who is
going to touch any of this material.  and
also for all authors.  okay, as far as the
ams is concerned, it's already installed
on every windows workstation used in the
organization, but that doesn't get around
the fact that version x of word doesn't
reliably produce the same output as version
x-2, and for reuse of archival material,
this means that everything must be proofread
all over again.  skilled technical proofreaders
are scarce, and becoming more rare as time goes
on, so this is very expensive now, and likely
to become much more so in the future.

    The IDEAL way would be to ask Microsoft not to change their product ever. 

    And for Microsoft to comply. 

surely you jest.

i know several microsoft technical people
professionally, and i have nothing but the
highest regard for their abilities.

it's the corporate philosophy that i can't
abide.  what you're asking is for ms to
forgo its raison d'etre.

don knuth created tex with a hundred-year
horizon; ms is the poster child for the
version du jour.
						-- bb

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