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Bug of the moment 2008-06-26

My attention was recently drawn to the fact that a document I produced in Word 2003, was not opening nicely in Word 2007:

I don’t have any reason to believe that the document is actually corrupted. This is how Word 2003 sees the file:

View full-size screenshot

Note the page count, and the mangled buttons that don’t scale with a narrower scroll bar size:

The document is one page long, but a design flaw in Word forces a blank page after any table that finishes at the bottom of the page. (This sort of nonsense is why in the past I did any document creation in Publisher: it did what it was told.)

This is how it renders in Word 2007:

View full-size screenshot

At the top of the picture you might notice something odd about the page count. Somewhere along the line, the document has grown another 118 pages. OK, no, make that another 1 358 pages:

View complete screenshot

The document seems to be of infinite length:

Attempting to scroll this now monstrous 3 666-page document caused Word to hang. When a graphical program in Windows XP hangs – that is, stops responding to messages – Windows tasks Explorer with the bizarre responsibility of replicating the program. It’s no secret that Windows doesn't have a real window manager, so a hung program’s window is going to get stuck on the screen and be unable to be moved or minimised, and the close button will get ignored.

To get around this, Explorer takes a screenshot of the area of the screen where the affected window is located (no matter what's drawn in that rect), hides the real window, and puts its new replica window in its place, with a new title bar that includes the magic phrase “Not Responding”. (Someone on The Daily WTF pointed this out to me; you can verify it using the window selector in Process Explorer or Winspector.)

Since the abominable new window appearance of Office 2007 – confusingly designed to resemble an inactive Mac OS X window – is nothing to do with Windows itself, Explorer doesn’t have any idea how to handle the situation:

View complete screenshot

Posted 26th June 2008 – Comments and questions?