Word 2008: Can’t even handle basic document scrolling

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Microsoft
April 24th, 2008 • 5:37 pm

A plain-vanilla 5,000-word document in Normal view (it’s called “Draft View” now), at a 100% zoom setting. Absolutely no formatting whatsoever. No tables. No graphics. Just plain text, in Times New Roman 12 point (a Microsoft TrueType font), left-aligned. It does not get much more basic than that, does it?

Yet apparently that is still enough to cause Microsoft Word 2008 to misbehave. Here’s the proof:

Mangled text in document

Here’s another sample, at 150%:

Mangled text in document

And exactly what horrible abuse of computing machinery did I commit in order to achieve such catastrophic text rendering?

I scrolled up and down the document.


Good job, Microsoft. Once again, you have exceeded all expectations. This is really fantastic engineering. Remind me again… How much did I pay for this crap?

An absolute bargain.

5 Responses to “Word 2008: Can’t even handle basic document scrolling”

  1. edwdcook says:

    I too find this really annoying. Also, I find Office has problems working with Expose. When viewing ‘all windows’, Office windows do not properly highlight when mousing over. Does this happen for anyone else?

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  3. kongjie says:

    I’m glad someone pointed this out. I’m using Word 2004 at work and for several versions I’ve encountered problems with screen redraw after minor edits. It’s nothing that can be easily attributed to a particular action or a particular type of document. The basic symptom is that changes in the document aren’t immediately redrawn, and–get this–moving the mouse speeds it up. So, for example, if I delete a sentence, there will be a noticeable pause before redraw. But if I delete the sentence and then jiggle the cursor, the redraw will happen faster.

  4. Pierre Igot says:

    kongjie: The problem you describe is actually a separate one. It is the problem I usually describe as “stalls,” and indeed it can occur after any kind of minor edit. And, as you correctly noted, the stalls can actually be interrupted by jiggling the mouse pointer.

    It is a problem that has plagued every version of Word for Mac OS X, including Word 2008. Things have only got marginally better over time because the underlying hardware has become faster. But as far as I can tell, Microsoft has made no effort to fix the problem. It’s another illustration of how they are incapable of designing a proper Mac application. It is the only Mac OS X application that I know that exhibits such problems in Mac OS X.

    When other applications temporary stall, it is usually because of intense hard drive activity or some other intensive process that effectively affects the responsiveness of the machine. But when Word stalls, there is no reason for it. There is no HD activity. There is no peak in CPU activity. And indeed the very fact that the stalls can be shortened by jiggling the mouse proves that Word is actually busy doing absolutely nothing. It really is like the application has some kind of brain damage that causes it to blank out. Moving the mouse pointer or pressing a cursor key acts as a nudge that makes the application snap out of its mental blank.

    Unfortunately, as far as I know, there is nothing that can be done to prevent those stalls from occurring again and again. And they are extremely irritating, especially for fast typists, because it means that there often is a gap between what they type or delete/edit and the corresponding redrawing of the text on the screen.

    I am afraid it is yet more evidence that Microsoft’s Mac engineers have not mastered even the basics of designing a proper Mac OS X application. And the fact that the stalls have been with us since 2001 also proves that they don’t care one bit about addressing their own shortcomings, even though the competing products (Pages, etc.) provide hard evidence that it is perfectly possible to create a fairly powerful word processor for Mac OS X without any of the numerous problems that plague Word.

    Again, however, this is a separate problem. The problem with scrolling described above is a new problem in Word 2008. It also has to do with screen redraws, but I don’t think it has anything to do with the stalls.

  5. Grich says:

    I’m having the same problem with Word 2003! Does anyone have an idea of how to fix this? I can’t work on a single word document now because this problem is so bad!

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