Word 2008: Another pseudo fix for problem with non-breaking space and Postscript fonts

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Microsoft
January 22nd, 2008 • 9:42 am

It is taken nearly half a decade, but I am pleased to report that Word 2008 finally fixes the problem with non-breaking spaces and Postscript fonts—if you are not a Spell Catcher X user, that is.

Unlike the pseudo fix in the Microsoft Office 2004 Update 11.3.0 update, this time the slightly improved pseudo fix works both for non-breaking spaces inserted manually and for non-breaking spaces inserted automatically by Word itself when using so-called “smart” punctuation in French.

(So it looks like someone at Microsoft has finally recognized that French-speaking Mac Word users should not be expected to use “advance field widths to get the proper spacing” for French punctuation. My, we really have come a long way.)

Sadly, the fix still does not eliminate the problem if you use a third-party tool such as Spell Catcher X for “smart” punctuation.

See, Spell Catcher X has its own “smart” punctuation feature, which is significantly better than Word’s own and happens to work the same way in pretty much every Mac OS X application. So the great benefit of using Spell Catcher X‘s “smart” punctuation feature is that you get the same behaviour everywhere in Mac OS X. (You can also customize the behaviour on a per-application basis if you so desire.)

Unfortunately, if you turn off Word’s own “smart” punctuation feature (in the “AutoCorrect” preference pane) and choose to use Spell Catcher X‘s instead, then when using Postscript fonts in Word documents you are still going to experience the bug in Word that causes the word processor to switch back to Times New Roman when a non-breaking space is inserted.

If I were paranoid, I would really start to think that Microsoft is doing it on purpose just to annoy users like me who happen to prefer a much better writing tool such as Spell Catcher X to Microsoft’s own lousy automatic features.

But I am not paranoid. I just think that Microsoft’s MacBU engineers are a bunch of marginally competent Mac developers who only ever do the bare minimum required to ensure that their applications work in Mac OS X. If there is a choice between fixing a bug properly so that no Mac user ever experiences it again or fixing a bug so that the majority of Mac users are unlikely to experience it most of the time (but some Mac users will continue to experience it, in some cases on a daily basis), then you can be sure that Microsoft’s engineers will always choose the latter.

In Microsoft-land, there is no such thing as properly written software. There is just patched-up software that is “good enough” for the majority of users. Let the rest of them continue to experience bugs, crashes, and what not. It won’t change anything to the application’s market share, so what do they care?

Thanks, Microsoft.

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