“But first we have to take care of a few things…”
“Have to” should be “must,” says Word, because “More concise language would be clearer for your reader.” “Have to” is two words; “must” is one. 1 < 2.
“In spite of his natural reluctance to…”
“In spite of” should be “despite,” because “More concise language would be clearer for your reader.” 1 < 3.
The effect of these and similar changes is to make the language sound more bureaucratic, even though the intention was certainly the reverse. The office drone who expresses himself in natural American English because he wants to get the writing out of the way as quickly as possible is pushed toward formalistic vocabulary that makes him sound less like a living human being and more like all the other Word users in the English-speaking world. Since most writing for publication (as memos, as academic articles, as textbooks, as court opinions) is still done in Microsoft Word, and since every Word user who has not specifically dismissed them will get these suggestions, they must have a significant effect on our language.
Dr. Boli’s readers, as a class, are probably little influenced by the Microsoft Effect. He has noticed that his readers have strong opinions on language (frequently they even disagree with Dr. Boli!), so they are not likely to be bullied by mere software. But the average secretary or temporary receptionist who has to write a memo (“has to” should be replaced with “must,” Microsoft suggests) is going to take these suggestions seriously. Microsoft wouldn’t say these things if they weren’t true, right?
There is good news, however. Google Docs will probably replace Microsoft Word as the dominant word processor in a few years. That means we all have to (“must”) adapt to Google’s prejudices, correcting “all right” to “alright” and so on. But they will be different prejudices.