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Who's In? Out? The Spellchecker Knows


Up Front: WORD PLAY

WHO'S IN? OUT? THE SPELLCHECKER KNOWS

FOR MICROSOFT, SOFTWARE rival Netscape doesn't exist--nor do a bunch of other high-tech competitors. If you type one of their names on the Windows 95 version of Microsoft Word, the spellchecker says it's a mistake. To be fair, the program does recognize "IBM" and "AT&T." But try putting in "Novell" or "Sybase." Sorry.

A conspiracy? Microsoft explains that the top 500 U.S. companies are included in the spellchecker's database--except names that come too close to common words. That is, Microsoft figures more people will misspell "novel" than "Novell" and wants to avoid confusion.

What about Netscape, the hot new issue that helps users get around the Internet? Well, it's not a big enough company to be listed--yet. Microsoft notes that people can always add the words to Word's personal spelling dictionary.

And Microsoft's spellchecker gets personal. IBM Chief Louis Gerstner is a spellchecker nonperson. But Bill Gates exists.

Unrecognized by Microsoft's Spellchecker

ACER

NETSCAPE

NOVELL

PACKARD-BELL

POWERSOFT

SAMSUNG

SYBASE

DATA: BUSINESS WEEKPaul Eng


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