July 28th, 2003 • 10:04 pm
If you are a Word X user, you might have noticed the following window that appears in the top-left corner of your screen when Word is in the background (i.e. not the application where the focus currently is):
I must admit I am quite puzzled by this thing. As you can see in the screenshot, the window cannot be closed. When you move your mouse pointer over the close/minimize/maximize buttons, only the second one (minimize) comes on. If you minimize the window, it appears in the Dock as a Word document window, with a small Word icon in the bottom-right corner.
If you then switch to Word, the minimized window stays in the Dock.
If you don’t minimize the small window and click on it, things get even weirder. Depending on how much you’ve customized Word’s default environment, you might have toolbars that cover the window and make it invisible in Word. But if you try hiding all the toolbars, and then click on this mystery window from another application, Word comes to the foreground, and the mystery window becomes the foremost window, even though it doesn’t contain anything or do anything. In fact, even though it’s in the foreground, the actual foreground window is one of your document windows, as the following attests:
In this second screenshot, the document window looks like it’s in the background (the document icon and title in the title bar are greyed out and the title bar itself is translucid), but in fact it is the foremost window, and you can work in it.
This mystery window is not present when you first launch Word X. It only appears after you’ve been using Word for a while. I don’t know exactly which action causes this window to appear — because it first becomes visible when Word is in the background, so you don’t see it when it first appears, while you are using Word.
Very strange. To me, it looks like some kind of hack that Microsoft engineers used for some reason because they couldn’t get things to work the way they wanted in Mac OS X.