Office 2011 14.1 Update: Still does not support file names with slashes

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Microsoft
April 13th, 2011 • 2:24 pm

When Word 2011 came out, I wrote about this new bug that caused the application to fail to open any file whose path contained certain “non-standard” characters, including accented letters, forward and backward slashes (/\), more-than and less-than symbols (<>), and so on.

Today, I installed the latest Office 2011 update, whose description fails to mention anything about this bug, but when I try to open or save files with accented characters or < or > in the file name or anywhere in the file path, things seem to be working OK.

However, the following issues remain.

First of all, Word 2011 still refuses to open a file whose name contains a forward slash (/), even though the forward slash is a perfectly legal character for file names in Mac OS X. (The only illegal character in file names in Mac OS X is the colon.)

In other words, you can create a Word document with Word 2011, save it somewhere on your hard drive, edit its file name in the Finder to change it to something containing a forward slash — which the Finder lets you do — and then you can no longer open the file in Word 2011:

Forward slash banned

As you can see, Word 2011 is not even able to determine for sure that it is the presence of a forward slash in the file name that is causing it to fail to open the file. It just gives you a few guesses. What does that tell you about the quality of the Word 2011 code, that it’s not even able to tell what the exact source of its own failure is?

In addition, the portion of the error message that has to do with file names and illegal characters itself contains an error. Contrary to what this message seems to indicate, a backward slash (\) is perfectly legal and you can even use one within Word in the “Save As…” dialog box when entering the proposed file name.

Similarly, you can also use <  and > in file names within Word 2011 or edit file names in the Finder using these characters and Word 2011 will still be able to open them. However, if you open a file whose name contains \, <  or > (and probably some other characters too) in Word and then do “Save As…,” in the file name included in that dialog box, the \, < or > will be replaced with… an underscore. So, the characters are legal, but Word 2011 still changes them without the user’s consent when the user attempts to save an existing file under a new name.

Finally, I should note that the presence of these characters and even the forward slash elsewhere in the file path (e.g. in the name of the enclosing folder) does not cause Word 2011 to fail to open the file. Only the presence of the forward slash in the file name itself causes the failure.

I guess that overall it’s an improvement, but Microsoft’s engineers still appear to be unwilling or unable to following Mac OS X conventions and support all the characters in file names that are supposed to be supported in Mac OS X and are supported in Word file names when editing them in the Finder.

One Response to “Office 2011 14.1 Update: Still does not support file names with slashes”

  1. Betalogue » Office 2011 Service Pack 2 says:

    […] the updater fixes none of the most glaring issues, including, for example, the fact that you cannot include a forward slash in your file name. (Word 2011 will refuse to open it.) Given that the Service Pack only weighs a little over 100 MB, […]