Friday, November 14, 2008

: Microsoft's Word: 3.1 vs. Microsft's Word 2003

The question which Microsoft Word product is better seems ridiculous.

We expect an evolution and improvement of a software product.

Microsoft produced Office 95, Office 97, Office 2000 and Office XP. All these versions followed Office 3.1 (which was produced in the beginning of the nineties under Windows 3.1 Operating System).

The answer is not as simple as the question. Probably Word 2003 is better unless you use a spelling checker for documents including text in more than one language.

Maybe Word 3.1 spelling checker is functionally limited and not user friendly but at least it is doing the job.

Using spelling checker in Word 2003 could lead to unpredictable results: Sometimes it will do the job and sometimes a buffer overflow will cause abnormal end of Word.

The post titled Zen and the Art of MS Office Problem Determination in my blog was relatively popular and some of the readers added comments. The reason for the relatively large number of readers is simple: many people experienced the cited above problem and no patch by Microsoft solved it.

I thought that bypassing the problem by excluding the dictionary and the spell checker is not the best solution. When using this bypass, spell checking procedure included the following steps:

1. Select the whole Word document.

2. Cut it.

3. Pace it into another application e.g. as draft post in Blogger.

4. Execute Spell Checking.

5. Correct spelling errors.

6. Copy the text back to Word.

The most common ways to solve a problem in Windows without problem determination are: apply updates, boot and install again.

Those of you who read my Zen and the Art of MS Office Problem Determination post, know that booting and installing patches did not address the problem. Ii tried reinstalling Office.

As long as the spell checker was deactivated Word was functioning perfectly. Even after activating it and checking an English document it was still functioning according to my expectations. However, when I opened a mixed English and Hebrew document it immediately abended. It was a partially predictable result; any time I opened this document Word immediately abended.

My Take

After succeeding to circumvent the problem, I can summarize my insights as follows:

  • Reinstalling did not solve the problem.

  • I was not able to find the common denominator for the documents causing Word ABEND. All of them include text in English and Hebrew but no ABEND occurred while opening other English and Hebrew documents. I assume that there is a positive correlation between document size and ABEND occurrence.·
  • Does changing Options to activate or deactivate the spell checker is affecting only the open document or all Word documents in a computer?

I do not know. After activating this option in one document other documents abended. Deactivating

this option after opening a document which abended does not help. After opening the first document in

which the activation occurred and deactivating spell checker, no dual language document cause ABENDs.

  • You can safely spell check an English document, but do not forget to reset this option after correcting the spelling mistakes.

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