Word, You Suck

· 3 min read

I’ve been doing a lot of editing of a large document lately (no surprises there) and in doing so have been immensely frustrated by Microsoft Word. I’m using it for the review features, comments and clear outlining of what’s changed. These frankly are great tools-or they would be-but recently the functionality of Word has been co-opted by the aesthetics department.

Let me back up and explain. The newer Windows OS released recently (11 at this point) and whilst everyone is still using 10 the new “feel” is getting shoved down everyone’s throats, the rounded corners, more spaced-out design. Ordinarily changes like this would be irrelevant to me (and most people) and realistically that is how it should be. But I have had on multiple occasions these design changes and their associated bugs make the program unusable, where a mere few weeks prior it worked basically flawlessly. The problem appears to be something with scaling and window movement as best I can tell as when something changes in size or location Word loses its mind and makes the text disappear, appear compressed, weirdly stretched or even off the page entirely.

Ok. I hear you say, So restart and try again. Yes a simple enough fix, but it won’t even give me an indication of whether it’s saved. Let’s not mention that sometimes comments won’t even bother appearing in the sidebar until you’ve clicked on them in the document. Or when scrolling to the bottom doesn’t actually scroll at all (you get a flickering sheet of paper giving the illusion but it not actually moving). Frankly it’s all a bit bizarre. But it also made me ask a question because I fear a lot of this stems from the number of pages in the file (not the actual file size) and that is, how did we get here? I understand word is the de facto. It’s installed on so many of the world’s computers it’s hardly worth arguing against it. But why? Yes there was plenty of business dealings to get it onto school computers to help trap people in the ecosystem, heck there still is. But how did we come to rely on a piece of software that seems determined to continue to pile bits of shaky code atop one another. And why is it so frightfully unstable in large documents when (and to be clear these are large text documents, no graphics, no changes in font aside from the title and only occasionally a change in paragraph alignment) that’s literally what it is designed for (or at least was).

Now I grant you I might be the edge case (fearfully I either am or just don’t have the right words to punch into a Google search) and if not an edge case at least merely unfortunate for having the bug appear but still, as with Scrivener before this it has made me wonder, is there a better way? Are word’s features and bloated xml document format really the best we can do? I don’t know, but I do know that I’ll be keeping an eye out for it.

I can only be happy that the ordeal is nearly over (for this round of editing at the very least).