November 17th, 2003 • 4:54 am
I can’t remember where I read this now (I think it was in a reader report on the MacInTouch web site), but I remember quite clearly someone mentioning that the annoying stalls that had been plaguing Microsoft Word ever since the first version of Office v. X came out were finally gone when using Word in Panther.
As a chronic sufferer of these stalls (I am a fairly fast user/typist and I tend to notice those things), I was looking forward to being able to confirm this myself.
Well, I have been using Panther for a couple of weeks now, and Word X runs fine in Panther overall — but the stalls are definitely not gone. Yes, Panther is faster than Jaguar on the whole, and this overall performance improvement also means somewhat improved performance in Word X, but, even on my fairly fast dual 1.25 GHz G4, I still experience the stalls on a regular basis, as if Word was falling asleep while I am typing.
It’s all the more annoying that Word is pretty much the only Mac OS X application that I use that suffers from the problem. I do a lot of typing in other applications (Mail, BBEdit, TextEdit, etc.) and none of them display the same problem.
I know that Microsoft representatives hide behind the blanket argument that Word is a different beast altogether and requires far more resources than these other programs — but I don’t buy it. The simple proof of the inanity of this argument is that the stalls can be interrupted by pressing a key! So it’s not actually time where Word is busy doing something that cannot wait until the user is finished typing. It’s time where Word is busy doing nothing and preventing the user from seeing the results of his typing.
Whenever a stall happens, I can always “wake up” Word by either pressing one of the cursor keys or jigging the mouse. If I don’t, i.e. if I type a sequence of words, look at my screen, see that Word has not yet displayed on the screen everything that I have typed, and do nothing, then sometimes I have to wait several seconds (on a dual 1.25 GHz G4!) before Word finally finishes to display the text that I have just typed.
I also don’t buy the crap about a corrupted Normal template or too many options enabled in Word X. I have already rebuilt my Normal template from scratch. I have already disabled a whole bunch of supposedly CPU-intensive options. It makes no difference whatsoever. And why would it? As I said, Word stalls not because it’s busy doing something. It stalls and does nothing — for several seconds or until I jig the mouse or press a key.
Needless to say, so far Microsoft has demonstrated no willingness to even acknowledge this flaw — let alone fix it. I can understand a software company not fixing obscure bugs that affect peripheral features. But this is about typing. In a word processor. It doesn’t get much more essential than this!
Shame, shame, shame on Microsoft.