Nisus Software has taken the unusual step of releasing an older version of their powerful word processor, Nisus Writer 4.1, for free. Nisus Writer 4.1 offers features that remain unmatched in other word processors, including unlimited undo, discontiguous selection, customizable multiple key keyboard shortcuts, grep searching, powerful macro capabilities, graphics creation, and support for WorldScript. Nisus Writer 5 has been out since 1996 (see "Nisus Writer Turns 5" in TidBITS 352), and although it added many welcome features, Nisus Writer 4.1 worked well for us for years (you can read much more about Nisus in our three-issue review of Nisus 3.0 in TidBITS 116, TidBITS 117, and TidBITS 118, and in our three-part review of Nisus 4.0 – "Text Processing," "Word and Document Processing," and "Multimedia Features" – in TidBITS 263, TidBITS 264, and TidBITS 265).
Needless to say, the free Nisus Writer 4.1 doesn’t include a printed manual or technical support, but you can purchase both separately, and a copy of Joe Kissell’s book, The Nisus Way might prove useful (see "I Am Joe’s Book" in TidBITS 319). You can also upgrade to the current Nisus Writer 5.1 for $50 ($40 without a printed manual). Nisus Software deserves credit for this bold move – with the dominance of juggernauts like Microsoft Word, small companies must introduce as many people as possible to their products to stand a chance at surviving. Giving away an old version as an incentive could be successful guerilla marketing – in the first three days, over 6,000 people downloaded Nisus Writer 4.1.