Microsystems contribution to the Word Compare debate (see OR blog posting for Monday 7 November) seems to have stirred up some controversy – and here is Workshare's contribution…
We have of course been pointing out Word Compare’s shortfalls for years – check out this link from ‘way back’ in 2009 for some good questions to ask of Word http://www.workshare.com/community/blogs/workshare/archive/2009/06/09/will-office-2007-meet-your-comparison-needs.aspx
Whilst Microsystems guide highlights a few well-chosen gaps in Word Compare, and their subsequent band aids, several important components are still missing. This includes PDF to PDF, or Word to PDF comparisons and the ability to compare more than 2 documents at once. In fact we could list another 30+ items. I won’t, but you can find them all here http://www.workshare.com/collateral/researchstudies/2011-GoBeyondBasicComparison.pdf
If any firms are seriously considering native Word Compare we recommend that a detailed evaluation is done against your own unique requirements. All the 3rd party experts in document comparison will know from their experience that it only takes one missed change to put an entire case at risk and no one knows your documents better than you.
One of the ‘myths’ Microsystems raise is the well-known problem as they put it: “Word does not accurately track and present changes in: Tables, Headers/Footers, Footnotes and Table of Contents.”

Their answer though, avoids any real judgement when the ‘fact’ is that yes, Word isn’t that great at comparing these elements and tools like Workshare Professional do them very well. (Sample documents available on request). Microsystems seem to suggest that poor accuracy is something we can/should live with but our philosophy is to strive for the perfect redline.
Document Comparison is a fine art. We have dedicated twelve years of engineering time to constantly improve our redlines. This is what law firms require in return for their investment in us. A good example of this is our current efforts to resolve the collaboration workflow issues mentioned in Microsystems guide (experienced by all comparison tools right now). We’ll have our fix available shortly so customers can continue to enjoy the high accuracy, usability and feature rich product they expect.
We agree with Microsystems that the decision to upgrade or continue with technology is more than just bits and bytes. What they don’t understand (how could they?) is that productivity isn’t the primary benefit of document comparison. The #1 reason for document comparison in legal has been about managing risk and that is a critical element in any law firm’s decision making process.
For more information visit: More information Ensuring Accuracy in Document Collaboration and Comparison: Why Relying on Microsoft Word Isn't Enough