A familiar name in the writing game, WordStar, has finally come to Windows, and it is definitely worth a second look if you are not already committed to WordPerfect, Word, Ami Pro or one of the other word-processing programs.
Even if you are committed, word-processing programs that run under Windows 3.0 work more alike than they did under plain DOS, making it much easier for an old report writer or novelist to learn new tricks.
When saving a document with one program required pressing the control key and K and S, it took a strong incentive to switch to a program that saved with F10 and Y.
With Windows, you can learn the keystroke commands if you wish, and you probably will for the common functions, but there is always the menu bar at the top of the screen as a crutch to help you invoke seldom-used or forgotten facilities.
WordStar goes back to 1978, when the CP/M operating system dominated personal computers. Quirky as it was, it remained the first choice for several years. But time passed, computers became more powerful, and WordStar in its later, improved, incarnations always seemed to remain a step behind.
WordStar for Windows, like other modern word-processing programs, straddles the fuzzy border between writing and publishing. You can put not only words on a page, but lines, drawings, bullets, captions and much more; then you can move them around and resize them until everything looks right.
You can design formats for memos, newsletters and the like, or adopt or adapt one of the 40 or so that come with the program. More than 75 pieces of clip art are included, and since WordStar handles most standard graphics formats, many more are available.
Also, documents created with almost any other word processor can be transferred.
Bitstream FaceLift is a part of the package, so there is a choice of 13 type fonts, which can be sized from extra-tiny 1 point to breathtaking 792 points.
Of course, you can also write. Most of the now-expected word-processing features are here, including a 119,000-word spelling checker and an 80,000-word thesaurus that provides not only synonyms but also antonyms and definitions.
Correct Grammar, which is available as a separate program, is built in to check for errors and advise on how hard or easy your style is.
Two common features are not part of WordStar for Windows. For some potential buyers, their omission could be crucial, or it could matter not a whit.
First, only one document at a time can be open. Second, there is no provision for macros, those little programs that automate frequent tasks.
This discussion hardly covers a program that can take up to 9.5 megabytes of hard-disk space, if you install the whole thing. It works on any computer that would be likely to be running Windows 3.0.
The list price of WordStar for Windows is $495, but that figure is more of a fiction than usual in the software field. Registered owners of WordStar Legacy can get an upgrade for $49. Registered owners of a WordStar DOS-based product can buy WordStar for Windows for $129, as can owners of anybody else's DOS or Windows word processor.
For more information call WordStar International of Novato, Calif., at (800) 227-5609.