“Amaze you, gentlemen users: here we bring you a text editor that can be controlled with the mouse”. That was probably the presentation message of Multi-Tool Notepad, the tool that Microsoft presented at COMDEX in 1983 and that offered a “visual” alternative to the poor text editing tools that dominated its MS-DOS operating system at the time.
That would lead to Notepad in Windows 1.01 in 1985, and 33 years later the funny thing is that things have not changed much. The mythical notebook is one of those eternal tools integrated in Windows and that for one reason or another has hardly changed. And not because I do not need them. Hello, Satya? You read me?
Welcome to the notebook
As we were saying, that original release was a Microsoft signing for the time. The company had just launched its Microsoft Mouse, a mouse that cost $ 195 (of then) and of course, you had to show that you could do something with that.
Not that a program to write was the best example of how a mouse improved the user experience, but the truth is that it was something. That tool did not have much travel: that complex name was abandoned when Word was launched in November of 1983, because Microsoft decided to simplify those product names, so that gave rise to the final name of the tool, Notepad.
That notepad that was accompanying us throughout the different versions of Windows showed that it was most helpful to have at hand a tool in which to be able to point things quickly. The problem is that the needs grew, but the notebook did not. It stayed basically as it was, and maybe it’s time for Microsoft to think about it.
Options too basic even for a basic tool
For good or for bad (because certainly in some cases it is good) the notebook is a plain text editor. No cheating or cardboard, gentlemen , and the idea is not bad if you want to edit system files to use in DOS environments (sorry? DOS?) Or even to chop code a little blindly, without any basic option like those that have the most basic code editors for years.
It does not even quite understand the line breaks (Microsoft included the option Format -> Line Adjustment so that at least the line “was cut” when we reached the end of the application window), and to curl the loop was offered an amazing option: to be able to search and replace text.
The most basic Windows program was so basic that it was limited by a type of window class called EDIT that, among other things, limited the maximum file size. In Windows 3.0, 3.1 and 3.11 could not open files of more than 54 KB, but in fact Microsoft advised you not even try with files of more than 45 KB.
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The thing improved in Windows 95, but not much. The maximum size was 64 KB, a limit that remained in Windows 98 and Windows Me. Actually the thing was not so serious, because the notebook, as its name suggests, was more for short notes than for editing long texts. Even so the last editions eliminated those limits and from Windows 8.1 we could already open files of up to 512 MB.
This editor, however, led to the personalization of the texts : the typography used went from the Fixedsys to the Lucida Console to later end up being Consoles in Windows 8. Even so, Microsoft ended up including an option to change the typography (Format -> Source), something that is probably the most advanced option of the most basic Microsoft Windows tool.
One opens the notebook and suddenly it is transported to the past. It is strange and wonderful that one of the few keyboard shortcuts prints the time and date (F5) , as well as the fact that except for the basic editing options there is not much more that we can do in the notebook. And that’s precisely why Microsoft has a pending debt with the notebook and with millions of users who would probably want a super-sized notebook.
The alternatives show the way
Here the options show again where the shots are currently going. Microsoft has been revamping some of the traditional Windows applications with versions with more ambition and interesting options. We have good examples in Groove Music, which lives that strange duality with Windows Media Player (this would deserve separate article) that also has condemned us with the Control Panel and the current Configuration tool.
We have also experienced that evolution with WordPad, which adopted the famous ribbon (“Ribbon”) of Office applications some time ago, or with Paint 3D, which rescued from ostracism (a little, at least) the mythical Paint.
The application of Photos is another one that has been renewed in that particular mission of Microsoft to turn Windows 10 into the operating system of the “creators”. In the Fall Creators Update we saw as among other novelties came Windows Story Remix, a successor to Movie Maker (reverence, reverence) integrated into the aforementioned Windows Photos.
What’s with the notebook? Nothing. Microsoft has forgotten the tool, although not entirely of its users. OneNote is included by default in Windows 10 as an alternative to take handwritten notes now that the stylus, convertibles and Windows Ink want to become the norm for those responsible for the company.
However, many of us would like to have a more ambitious notebook. One that looked like (a little at least, please) to the application that all Windows users should install if Notepad is cut short: Notepad ++, of course, the Open Source tool is actually available on the Microsoft Store -that a “repackaged” version, not a derivative of the official development branch on GitHub -.
Notepad ++ is everything the notebook should be. It has syntax highlighting and syntax hiding, regular expression support, full interface customization, autocomplete, multi-document support and split-screen editing, tab support (this may soon arrive to the notebook), zoom, multiple support programming languages, recording macros or comparing files, and even plugins. It has basically everything.
Surely the notebook of Windows does not need “all that”, but certainly would not hurt to have one of those options. So Satya, if you’re reading me, you know . To work and give a little affection to a notebook that deserves more.