Word 2008: Bug with input methods fixed

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Microsoft
September 10th, 2009 • 3:37 pm

I did not notice this bug fix right away, because, while I do download and apply incremental updates as diligently as possible, I don’t have time to check each and every known bug (there are thousands of them) to see if it has been fixed or not in the update. I also don’t use Word 2008 nearly as often as I used to, since Apple’s Pages is now my word processor of choice and I only use Word 2008 when I have a Word document that contains numerous elements likely to cause alignment issues and other problems when importing the document in Pages and exporting it back in Word format.

That said, if I had read the release notes about Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac 12.2.0 Update, I would have noticed this:

Improvements for Microsoft Word 2008 for Mac

• Compatibility is improved with SpellCatcher X.
This update fixes an issue that improves compatibility with SpellCatcher X.

No, it’s not a dream. Microsoft’s MacBU did actually notice a bug that was introduced in the initial release of Word 2008 (more than a year and a half ago) and caused a buggy handling of input methods, including Spell Catcher X. And they did actually fix it.

This means that now, when you type text in a Word 2008 with Spell Catcher X’s input method (so as to benefit from Spell Catcher’s automatic as-you-type features), Word no longer treats each and every keystroke as a separate event and, when you try to undo your typing with command-Z, Word no longer requires you to undo it character by character, which was excruciatingly painful.

Not only did Microsoft notice the bug (albeit long after Word 2008 came out and I reported it) and not only did they eventually fix it, but they even documented the fix in their release notes.

I am amazed—but then, I am only amazed because Microsoft has such a long history of totally ignoring existing bugs for years, especially bugs that affect me in my daily work. (I am not being paranoid. It’s just that Microsoft obviously pays very little attention to the needs of “power users” like me who actually use Word for Mac OS X to make a living.)

That said, there are numerous other bugs that remain in Microsoft Word 2008, including new bugs introduced with the initial release of Word 2008 that are obvious and deserve to get fixed as much as the bug with the input methods.

(By the way, the bug that Microsoft fixed in 12.2.0 didn’t just affect Spell Catcher X. It also affected all other forms of keyboard entry that rely on an input method, as opposed to a simple keyboard layout. But since I don’t know whether Word 2008 is actually usable with any other input method beyond Spell Catcher X—we are talking about the input sources in Mac OS X’s system preferences that list a number of sub-systems, such as the ones called “Kotoeri” and “Hangul”— I don’t know if only Spell Catcher X users were affected.)

Other bugs that were introduced in Word 2008 and are totally unacceptable in a quality product include the fact that Word 2008 document windows don’t remember their position on the screen when you close and reopen them, the fact that, more often than not, Word 2008 refuses to respect Mac OS X’s window layering and brings all its windows in front of other application windows when you bring one of its document windows to the foreground, the fact that things don’t get redrawn quickly and properly when automatic page breaks change, the fact that extra paragraph marks appear when you delete a selection of more than one paragraph, and so on. (I’ve documented these bugs in various posts. There is a recap here.)

And these are just the newer bugs. There are still plenty of old ones that have been with us for years and will probably never be fixed.

But yeah, for once, Microsoft did actually fix a bug—and one that affected me in my daily working life. Amazing.

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