Also, his characterization of LaTeX as nothing more than "a set of finely tuned defaults" is absolutely correct. Generally speaking, one wants to think hard before starting to twiddle too much with the default settings in LaTeX, mostly because Knuth already did, and it shows. One also doesn't want to get caught up in the trap of paying more attention to formatting than the text, which is easy to do when using WYSIWYG environments. There's a good reason that the smallest unit of "finely tuned defaults" available in LaTeX is the documentclass -- because producing documents is ultimately what it's all about, not formatting text.
I also love using LaTeX because I can grab a set of template and style files from whatever publication I might be writing for, and I can be sure that the outcome will be in line with what they were expecting. True, I could also get a Word template, but I've always found that with Word templates I hit backspace at some inopportune location and ruin the layout. "A set of finely tuned defaults" indeed!
The left hand side of the capital D on the LaTeX output (bottom) looks thinner compared to every other vertical in the sentence. Word (top) clearly doesn't have this problem.
Image editor says the vertical on the B, D, and right hand of M are all 3 px wide for LaTeX.
Writer is 4, 3+2 anti-aliased, and 3+1 anti-aliased (both equating to approximately 4, but the M winds up rendered with a very slight slope.
Word is 4, 4, 3+1 with the same slope issue.
Interestingly, the smallcaps B in LaTex has a wider vertical (4px) where Writer and Word are smaller - 2px and 3px, respectively, after accounting for anti-aliasing.
Yes, but the smaller caps should have thinner lines. Instead the larger font is thinner.
That’s not true. Small caps should be drawn so that their line widths about match those of capitals. They should not just be smaller versions of capitals. Both Word and Writer fake small caps by making capitals slightly smaller. That’s just wrong.
“Instead the larger font is thinner.”
As it can be. The thinnest lines of the capitals should in most cases be thinner than the widest lines of the small caps. That’s just normal.
That's not what's happening here - open up an image editor and measure it: the thickest line of the small caps is thicker than the thickest line of the caps. Only LaTeX has this problem.
Whether you label those techniques as 'fake' or not does not change that LaTeX and/or Metafont's displayed results are poorer than Word and OpenOffice in this aspect.
I can take a document written any time in the last 25 years in TeX and print it today. It will still print the same way that it did then, modulo available printing technology, down to the visible wavelength of light. I can then tweak it and print the edited version, without any loss of formatting. Using WYSIWYG word processors and random formats that have existed over that time, not so much.
It isn't just word processing formats. The same is also not true of other printing formats such as postscript and pdf. (Witness in this thread how pdf documents that printed fine for one person not printing correctly for another. That with a pdf created this year.)
This trait is very important for anyone who needs to archive documents. Such as happens all of the time in academia...
I mean, if you take a non-trivial document using several packages from several years ago, and try to compile now, a likely result is the compilation fails with some obscure error or the original result can be different in unexpected ways.
Usually that can be fixed with the use of a new option or calling a different command or little things like that, however the point of compatibility through many revisions of many packages (and its interactions) in LaTeX is something to be warned about.
If you buy a cheap power drill and you use it maybe twice a year, it still probably lasts your whole life and you really don't even need to know why a professional power drill might be much better. Unless, that is, you're a hi-fi junkie and want to do your 100 holes with the best drill you can find, or you're a professional who drills 100 holes a day.
Sure, it says that "in effect", but (honestly asking) in actuality, is it more along the lines of "PC LOAD LETTER"?
So why compare LaTeX to them, and not, for example, Adobe InDesign, or FrameMaker?
To recycle an analogy: Word is a hammer, and complex documents are screws. When your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
Ultimately, Word and TeX are just tools for producing formatted documents. It's silly to cling to Word because it's WYSIWYG when it can't actually do the job you need done.
I like LaTeX too, but have found it's too much work for the simple documents I need to write.