Barney's Rubble

War of Word

Doug on his struggles with Word 2007.

Whenever I complain about problems with Microsoft software I get two responses. Those who've never had the issue think I'm an idiot,a total technical doofus. If I can't fix it with a quadruple keystroke combo that brings up a script file for me to debug, then I'm a real dope.

Then there are the people who went through what I went through. They have sympathy, and think whoever wrote the software is the simpleton.

This is exactly what happened when I complained about Word 2007 in a recent e-mail newsletter. I was running Word with four files open. AutoSave was set for five minutes. I went to bed with the screen open and woke the next day to a crashed machine. Going through AutoRecover, the first file seemed fine, so I stupidly let it delete the others. They were seemingly gone for good.

After some real sleuthing I recovered them close to their last state, but with formatting that would make Jackson Pollock proud.

The item prompted a debate about the stability of Word, and the software's design.

"I find it really odd that people who write about technology have most of the problems. Get a 16 year old over to fix your issues," said one reader with impressive sarcasm.

Reader Jimmer, however, had my back. "Office 2010 running on 64-bit Windows 7 is pretty much useless. It's constantly freezing," Jimmer said.

Another reader defended Word this way: "Ninety percent of the time Word or Office has a problem, it's some third-party plug-in crashing inside of Word -- even if you aren't actively using the plug-in features," the reader explained.

Also splitting opinion is whether Word handles files well. If Word never crashes, you shouldn't have any integrity problems. But AutoSave and AutoRecover are both problematic. Knowing this, those like me who have lost files save like crazy, manually clicking save as if they have OCD. That's pretty foolproof.

"Word does occasionally crash -- and it isn't always easy to figure out where the document is. I rarely actually lose a document, but when it crashes it's more likely to show my versions that actually predate what I saved before the crash," one reader related.

Reader Denise was at the end of her AutoRecover rope. "Come on, Microsoft," she said. "If it doesn't automatically recover every x minutes, then name it for something it actually does -- like auto-maybe-it-might-be-there-if-the-stars-are-aligned-properly," suggested Denise, who works in a development shop.

Who's right, the know-it-alls or the ordinary mortals who run into occasional problems? You tell me at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

About the Author

Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.

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