Word X: Stalls still there in Panther

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
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.

5 Responses to “Word X: Stalls still there in Panther”

  1. Pierre Igot says:

    With all due respect, I don’t think you can assume that you know exactly what every other Mac user needs in terms of word processing.

    As far as I know, German doesn’t have any accented characters.

    TextEdit is OK (including Panther’s version), but no substitute.

    X11 and OO are awfully clunky, and are only able to match Office’s “look-and-feel” circa 1995. They’ve got a long way to go…

    I don’t see myself asking every computer user at my employer’s place to download and install and use RagTime for Windows on their machine, just because that’s what *I* would like them to use.

    I fully agree that people need to be informed of the alternatives, in case these alternatives might be suitable for their situation. But the fact remains that there are many Mac users out there who have to share Office files with Windows users (back and forth) on a daily basis and for whom no Office alternative does a decent enough job.

  2. Pierre Igot says:

    I’ve been through all this “stop using Word” time and time again.

    Why So Many Mac Users Need Microsoft Word

    In a nutshell, we each have our own needs. May I ask:

    – Do you ever type in French?

    – Do you ever have to edit existing Word documents created by other people?

    – Do you ever need to use tables?

    I sincerely wish I didn’t have to use Word. But I do. That’s all there is to it.

  3. Ortwin Zillgen says:

    that’s what I wanted to point out:
    – nothing really changed since Word 5.1 Mac (that’s 10 years ago)
    – my written french is poor, but some suppose german to be a 2-byte language and I use that, most of the time
    – TextEdit for Panther is quite good at reading and writing Word-documents
    – there are alternatives, beside X11 and OpenOffice, like RagTime supporting more than just Word and preserving the Word-tables as working spreadsheets

    I think that information is worth spreading, because to many Mac-users think they really need Word. That’s not true, neither for Mac-users nor for Windows-users, nobody is really tyed to that.

    By the way office.xml (DTD, Schema) was announced today, interesting parsing.

  4. Ortwin Zillgen says:

    ah, still at Word? My newest one is 5.1, suppose that was in 1991 and the only reason to switch from 4 to 5 was the outliner build in. Later Word-versions didn’t add anything worth upgrading, nothing. 5.1 runs fine in classic (X.2 and X.3), no stalls.
    If I’m urged to deliver a “.doc”-document, I’m using 5.1 on my Mac, add an “.doc” to the documentname and nobody ever found out yet that
    a) it’s a Mac-document and
    b) it’s an elder Word-version.
    Next time I’ll use TextEdit and ‘ll wait for the reactions. As far as I tested, nobody will know or care either.

    Suppose it’s time to abandon Word X. Use RagTime (Solo is free) for a complete office-solution the Mac-way (Text, Spreadsheet, Layout, Chart, Presentation, Drawing, Import/Export Word and Excel and an array of graphics) Did I forget something. Ah yes, geography is an addon (GeoInsight) and RagTime is Mac and Windows and colour-separation is build in, AppleScript-able/-recordable and – forget it, everything.
    http://www.comgrafix.com/ for the Americas.

  5. Ortwin Zillgen says:

    1 no I don’t know … and I’m missing the included outliner of Word

    2 no accents but Umlaute äöüÄÖÜ and ß which is SS in uppercase. Depending on circumstances you might need different glyphs depending where the letter is in a word, start – middle – end, but that is not very common nowadays.
    Umlaut is easy on german keyboards, but on american ones you need option-u-u für ü. You might consider two keyboards at your Mac.

    3 d’accord

    4 dito. Will they ever reach?

    5 exactly what I recommend. If the recipient uses Word, I send them a word-document exported from my RagTime-text, or a native Excel-doc exported from the RagTime spreadsheet.

    6 agreed, I do that all the time. In difficult cases – content structure beyond formatting aka outlines, 1 out of 100 Word-users – I need to use Word 5.1.
    I still have Excel 4.x, but RagTime substitutes Excel very well.

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