Word 2004: Arbitrarily switches panes after exiting dialog sheet

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Microsoft
March 28th, 2007 • 10:45 am

This is a perfect example of the sheer idiocy of Microsoft Word 2004 and of the utter carelessness of its developers.

Microsoft Word has long had this feature where you can split a single document window into two separate panes, in order to be able to view two different sections of the same document at the same time.

It’s a useful feature, but, as usual with Microsoft, its implementation is full of long-standing bugs.

Take the following situation:

Document with two panes

I have two panes and the focus is currently on the bottom pane, as indicated by the highlighted text. I have some text selected in that bottom pane. The top pane is effectively in the “background.”

Then I accidentally press command-W, the shortcut for closing the document window. Since the document has not yet been saved, Word is kind enough to warn me that there are unsaved changes and ask me if I want to save them:

Dialog sheet

Since I actually pressed command-W accidentally, I just press the Escape key to dismiss this dialog sheet, which is the equivalent of clicking on the “Cancel” button.

Now look at what happens:

Two panes after dialog sheet is dismissed

Where is the focus now? As indicated by the highlighting colour, the focus is now in the top pane of the document window! Word is so badly written that the application is not even able to return to the correct pane after you’ve dismissed the dialog sheet.

It might sound like a small detail to you, but it’s such a basic thing, and it’s so typical of everything that is wrong with Word 2004 and with Microsoft developers. I suspect they all think that they have much more important bugs and features to take care of, but there is simply no excuse for this kind of stuff. You might find it acceptable in a version 1.0 product, but not in a mature product that has supposedly been fine-tuned for years, even decades. No matter how important the other stuff is, someone has to take the time to fix these bugs. That’s all there is to it.

And this explains why I find myself cursing Microsoft Word on a daily—make that hourly—basis.

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