Fatal Word bug

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by johnnyjibbs, Feb 9, 2004.

  1. johnnyjibbs macrumors 68030


    Sep 18, 2003
    London, UK
    I've managed to find a fatal flaw in MS Word that, once found, screws over one of your documents. Pity that happened to be my highly crucial main dissertation project, due in in 5 weeks.

    I was working happily away yesterday on my project, racking up the word count until, while I was saving one time, it unexpectedly quit. I reloaded the document into Word and it stalled for a couple of seconds before quitting once more. And again, and again. The document had about 3000 words in it, interspersed with several tables, Excel graphs and images (all of which are saved as separate files luckily). I transferred the file to my USB key and downloaded it onto the networked uni PCs (running Windows XP). It loaded up fine in Word for Windows XP so I undid the last change, saved and transferred it back to the Mac. All was fine and dandy again.

    That was yesterday. Today, the same thing happened, and even the backup on the USB dongle did not load. The nature of this bug is that Word is not responsive with the document open, so changes cannot be made nor the document saved before it quits (about 2 seconds later). Strangely, however, if you grab the scrollbar and drag down it allows you to view the whole document; letting go of the scrollbar results in Word quitting (I've noticed this is an interesting caveat with OS X - try holding down the scrollbar on a Safari window and you'll find everything on the page will freeze - useful if you want to read a rotating ad banner before it changes.)

    So again, I transferred the new file to the dongle and put it on the uni network. This time, Word for Windows XP crashes, every time (in less elegant style it must be admitted - Windows gives you no warning that Word has 'hung', it just asks for you to submit a bug report when you try to quit it). One of the times I tried, I managed to cause XP to completely crash. The only way I could get any response was to press the reset button.

    But anyway, the point is, my document is now screwed and I'm silly not to have made any backups recently but there's nothing I can do about that now. Then, came my saving grace: TextEdit (thank god I have a Mac after all!)

    Interestingly, the document opens fine in TextEdit, although the pictures and spreadsheets have disappeared, and the tables have reverted to tab-lineated ones. At least I have not lost my text! I've resaved the file as a Word file under a different name in TextEdit and now that one does load in Word fine. I was also pleased that the formatting was exactly the same, except for the tables and lack of images (which I can easily re-insert). SO TEXTEDIT DOES HAVE A USE AFTER ALL!!

    Some interesting observations and caveats:

    - Of course, I should have remembered, but as my file didn't contain the ".doc" extension (I HATE FILE EXTENSIONS!!!), Windows didn't recognise it until I added that in.

    - When Word quits on Windows it asks me to submit a bug report. I did each time. On clicking the "more information" link, it sends me to a webpage that tells me "Please upgrade to Word 2003" ($$$)

    - If you "open with" the word file in Windows you get two options, Word and Wordpad. Thinking Wordpad must now have Word file support, I chose this option but every time it crashed, saying that an "unknown error had occurred"

    - I will never laugh at the simplicity of TextEdit again

    Sorry this seems a little anti-Windows but I'm trying to say that if anyone else has a similar problem, 1) kick yourself for not backing up regularly and 2) try TextEdit, it's not that bad!

    Sorry for the length of thread also. I wonder if anyone else has come across a similar problem as this?

    (And for those of you who read my post on the "Uses for a PC" thread, I guess PCs are not so useful after all! :D ;) )
  2. An_Apple_A_Day macrumors newbie

    Feb 1, 2004
    Carmel CA
    Excellent post! I will most definitely remember TextEdit because of the story.
  3. rainman::|:| macrumors 603


    Feb 2, 2002
    Ah, a play on occam's razor. the simplest solution is usually the best. Textedit can be a great thing... i find that it opens the most complex word docs better than word itself sometimes... when going PC -> Mac with the file.

    I've found a few bugs myself, none this bad. My favorite bug is one i call "don't save right after using find/replace". Kills the program (on the machines at work anyway) and doesn't autosave the doc for recovery. Nice.

  4. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    I absolutely love text edit. I have at least one friend who uses it exclusively (cheaper than Word!), but I've realized that it really does all of what I need for the most part. Nothing fancy, but I don't often need fancy.

    Anyway, though, I had a similar and vicious experience a few years ago with Word--there was a bug (I forget if it was 98 or X, but probably in 98) that would cause documents with lots of tables in them to randomly corrupt themselves almost beyond repair. Of course, I didn't find out about this until Word ate a huge paper about two hours before it was due. A search at the good ol' MacTopia turned up a patch for this, but that was cold comfort.

    Looks like maybe they haven't quite nailed that one down yet...

    (Another random Word story: I once saw a document in Word 2000 on Windows that would cause a force quit every time you tried to paste some text from a certain part of it into a new document. Also crashed 98 and X on the Mac. Turned out to be a partially corrupted document, which apparently happens relatively often with large Word documents. A series of "save as" commands on the Mac eventually resurrected it, but I thought that .doc was possessed for a while!)
  5. HexMonkey Administrator


    Staff Member

    Feb 5, 2004
    New Zealand
    My favourite flaws in MS Word (and Microsoft's other software) have to be the (lack of) error message writing skills. I got the error in the image below when typing a font into the font field that doesn't exist (in Word 98 on Windows). But my favourite error message has to be from the VBA editor in Excel. The message reads 'Help not available' with two buttons: 'OK' and 'Help'. :D

    Attached Files:

  6. yamabushi macrumors 65816


    Oct 6, 2003
    Word has eaten several of my important documents on both Mac and Windows versions. I was able to recover part of only one of them via the autosave feature.
  7. absolut_mac macrumors 6502a


    Oct 30, 2003
    Dallas, Texas
    Re: Fatal Word bug

    I'm not sure what you're running, but I got the earliest version of XP Home Edition shortly after it came out (I had no choice due to ME being the garbage that it was :mad: ) and my whole system became unstable after installing Office 2000.

    Great isn't it :confused: ???

    M$ releases a spanking brand new OS that's NOT compatible with their most recent Office Suite!?!?

    Installing Office XP shortly after it became available got rid of all the Office bugs, but there is still some instability in my system due to the usual M$ corrupted files and DLL's etc. The type of things that cannot be repaired except by a 100% clean reinstallation.

    M$ got a lot of flack for that and an update was issued, but too late to help me :(

    When I bought my daughter a cheap custom built comp about a year later, there were zero issues in the identical software set-up that I had i.e. XP Home Edition and Office 2000.
  8. stoid macrumors 601


    Feb 17, 2002
    So long, and thanks for all the fish!
    Here's to show MS's excellent way of dealing with old bugs:

    My father was trying to print out a text and graphics test for the Geometry class he teaches at the high school. MS Word continually crashed no matter what he did whenever he tried to print the document. Finally, after hours of frustration he remembered something from the 80s, when he took a few classes in programming architecture. At that time, word processors were just beginning to include the ability to sync together text and image, but for some reason programs seemed to act erratic if the lowest graphic fell below the lowest text. Sure enough, he moved the last diagram up a notch or two, and the document printed flawlessly!
  9. Crikey macrumors 6502

    Jan 14, 2004
    Spencer's Butte, Oregon
    Great story, johnnyjibbs! I too am a TextEdit fan.

    When I have a Word (or Excel, but usually Word) document that gets internally corrupted and crashes Word, I load it into OpenOffice.org, make some trivial change, and save it back out as a Word file. Word can usually then read it again. It would not have occurred to me to try this with TextEdit.

    Word does have a problem with corrupting large, complex files with lots of objects like spreadsheet grids and graphics. A couple of years ago I knew a whole cohort of grad students who had switched to OpenOffice.org for the duration of their thesis projects.

    If I were Steve Jobs, I'd put some programmers on the OpenOffice.org MacOS X porting project. And the AbiWord porting project as well.

    Thanks for sharing a tip that may come in handy some day!

  10. johnnyjibbs thread starter macrumors 68030


    Sep 18, 2003
    London, UK
    Well it's nice to see there's plenty of quirks in Microsoft's software. I can also agree with HexMonkey that some of Window's system diaolgs are notoriously incoherent and downright stupid sometimes. Guess Microsoft doesn't have that magic Apple GUI touch, eh?

    Even though I shelled out for Office v.X student edition, I might give OpenOffice.org a try. Haven't used X11 before though.

    Oh, and with the "Convert text to table" feature in Word I was able to ressurrect most of my tables back to how they were (doesn't work that intelligently but better than starting out again!)
  11. HexMonkey Administrator


    Staff Member

    Feb 5, 2004
    New Zealand
    Some other error messages that I've gotten:
    "You cannot do a Quick format because the disk is not formatted"
    "Cannot copy [filename]: The file exists."
    and finally, when browsing the HD, doing nothing to do with printing, "The printer is out of paper."

    I guess M$'s employees were focusing too much on getting the bugs working properly to write some decent error messages :D
  12. King Cobra macrumors 603

    Mar 2, 2002
    I have to help with a home business (it sucks) and opening email attachments from Marantz and J B Marketing Associates that are of .doc and .xls. Most of the time, Appleworks opens the .doc and .xls files without a problem and going through the MacLink converter. (I need Appleworks (6.2.9, Panther) for working with .xls files.) But TextEdit for Panther has yet to fail to open a Word document downloaded from an email from either company, or from a course-specific college assignment.

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