to be fair on them
They have been incrementally adding useful features to all their office software as the years go on. I do like the SmartArt stuff, for one, though I've very rarely used it, it's nice to know it would be there if my line of work was more WP based than it currently is.
Cyncial as I am about it, it's true ... although I do suspect a lot of stuff is being "held back" and only released piecemeal so there's a continuing reason to upgrade every few years. Stuff like allowing a free choice of text and background colour in Word, Excel and Publisher even though Powerpoint was doing it ages ago, and Paint did right from about 1990... That didn't come along til 2003 for some situations, and 2007 for others! No excuse other than forced obsolescence.
You're totally right on the core features though. Take it back to Windows 3.1, I had that installed on a 1.1mb (yes, that's right), 12Mhz 286 with about 20mb of free disc space once all the software was installed. Cheap phones would laugh at it. Still not entirely sure how I convinced the hacked-in colour card (after the mono Herc died) to do 256 colour XGA when that represented almost as much VRAM as system memory... but it worked, and I was able to do schoolwork on that and an old dot matrix, until family castoffs allowed moving up to the heady world of a 486 and a knackered deskjet.
In any case, 3.1 came bundled with Write. It did truetype fonts, including the bundled Arial, Times, Courier and Wingdings, in sizes from 4 through 120 points and a variety of styles and basic paragraph formats, and I believe you could also insert pictures from Paint (or indeed anything in suitable bitmap form... damn sure I shoved images into it from Encarta 94 back in the day), if the RAM allowed it. Can't remember if it allowed different text colours, but even if not that STILL covers a lot of the functionality that people use on a daily basis, as most stuff is black-on-white, often with a mono printer. I've got a letter on my desk which could have been made using it, letterhead and all. All we're missing is tables and non-retarded image wrapping. For which we can pick up an early version of Works, which will also give us basic Mail Merge. Everything since that from Word 6 on up has been refinement, rather than revolution.
Oh yeah, and it didn't have the bloody Ribbon.
Just like you can still happily get to the shops in a Morris Traveller, and not even be slowed down if you drive legally. It's just a bit more comfortable and less stressed in a brand new Mercedes, and you have more toys. But you do have to deal with some of it's idiocies like the electronically controlled indicators, endless bonging noises and whatever iDrive copy it employs.
(Though there IS a limit to how far back you can go; you wouldn't want to be using a Model T to go to Asda, for example, and even Write was a hell of a lot better than the horrendous Lotus Symphony nonsense that the 286 had loaded on it when I took ownership)