PowerPoint 2008: When left is right

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Microsoft
November 9th, 2008 • 1:30 pm

It is truly extraordinary. I sincerely believe that Microsoft are the only software company on the face of this earth that is capable of producing software that cannot tell the difference between left and right.

No wonder they blamed PowerPoint for the last space shuttle disaster.

Here’s the situation. I have a block of text in a bullet list that I can to select. So I place my cursor at the beginning of the text:

Cursor before text

Then I use the common keyboard shortcut for extending the selection to the end of the paragraph, which is option-shift-Down. (Amazingly enough, Microsoft actually supports these standard Mac keyboard shortcuts, whereas Adobe still persists in forcing us to use command instead of option.)

Selected text

So far so good. But now I actually want to exclude the very last character (the question mark) from the selection, because I want to replace the selected text with another question, so I don’t have to retype the question mark. So I do what any normal human being with a working knowledge of keyboard selection shortcuts would do. I press shift-Left.

And here is what I get:

Selected text

Amazing, uh? I press shift-Left, and PowerPoint actually extends the selection by one (invisible) character to the right.

Exactly in what parallel universe exclusively inhabited by Microsoft engineers does left equal right?

Now, of course, I realize that most users actually use the mouse for text selection, because they are not familiar with the keyboard shortcuts for text selection and they don’t realize that these shortcuts can be much more accurate and faster than mouse movements, especially when your hands are already on the keyboard.

So this problem only affects a minority of users. But is it still excusable?

I should also note that, when I try to reproduce the same problem with other existing bullet lists that I am working on, shift-Left does not actually extend the selection to the right. But it does not reduce it by one character to the left either. It does nothing. I have to press shift-Left twice in order for PowerPoint to finally accept to reduce the selection by one character. So there’s obviously a major architectural flaw here, and it just so happens that in some situations this causes the selection change not only to fail, but to actually go in the opposite direction.

For the particular bullet list that I have in the screen shots above, pressing shift-Left definitely does extend the selection highlighting to the right. In other words, I can reliably reproduce the problem 100% of the time with this particular list, in this particular PowerPoint file.

Like I said: extraordinary. Only in Microsoftland. Words fail me.

One Response to “PowerPoint 2008: When left is right”

  1. jking says:

    Words fail me.

    Apparently, so do Powerpoints. :)

Leave a Reply

Comments are closed.