PowerPoint 2008: Problem when displaying same presentation in two windows

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Microsoft
February 24th, 2010 • 6:43 pm

For a long time, Office applications have had a feature where you can view the same document in two different windows at the same time, which enables you to view and edit two different sections of the same document or view the same document in two different view modes at the same time.

It’s a nifty feature, and one that’s sorely missing in Apple’s iWork suite of applications.

Unfortunately, as per usual with Microsoft, the feature is plagued by bugs, and things aren’t getting better with time, on the contrary.

As far as I can tell, in PowerPoint 2008, the feature is broken to the point of being unusable.

If I open a blank new presentation in PowerPoint 2008, type a few words in the title and subtitle fields, and then go to the “Window” menu and choose “New Window” to open a second window showing the same presentation, PowerPoint correctly does just that.

But then if I try to continue editing the text boxes in the original (first) document window, PowerPoint 2008 seems completely unable to refresh the text display properly. Typing seemingly produces nothing—but I can see that the text gets inserted properly, because it is displayed properly in the other (second) window in the background. But in the first window, the only way that I can force PowerPoint 2008 to display what I have just typed is to resize the document window. This somehow forces PowerPoint to “refresh” the contents of the text boxes and render them properly. But it does not fix the problem.

In that first window, it is pretty much impossible to edit text boxes, unless you enjoy doing things like typing in the dark.

So that makes the two-windows feature in PowerPoint 2008 pretty much unusuable for anything other than viewing slides.

I cannot reproduce the problem in PowerPoint 2004, so it looks like a “new” bug in PowerPoint 2008. (If it is indeed new to PowerPoint 2008, it has been there for the past year and a half, so it’s not “new” in that sense any longer!) I obviously cannot entirely rule out something specific to my configuration that might be causing the problem (dual monitor setup, maybe?). But still… It’s a pretty bad and obvious one. (I didn’t notice it earlier because really, in all honesty, I tend to avoid PowerPoint like the plague and only use it when I am really forced to do so. And when I do have to use it I don’t always have to use the “New Window” feature.)

To be fixed in Office 2011 or whatever it’s called? Don’t count on it. With Microsoft’s lackadaisical attitude towards bugs, it’s more likely to be ignored for another few years.

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