When I unthinkingly say "OK" to an Office request to update itself, Word gets seriously weird in the aftermath. Next time, I'll wait...

Word Gets Seriously Weird

I should know better, so I have no one to blame but myself. Yesterday, I was beavering away on an MS Word project for one of my regular customers. An update notification popped up in Word and I confess: I clicked “OK” before I really thought about what that might mean. Alas, I was about to find out — the hard way. My project entailed “rolling up” three tech briefs into one single, larger document which made it mostly a cut-n-paste exercise with some minor reformatting, intro/outro content creation, and a QA pass over about 6,000 words of copy. Then, as MS Word gets seriously weird in the wake of the updates, I notice things aren’t working correctly.

When Word Gets Seriously Weird, Start Over

As somebody who’s been writing professionally in MS Word since the mid-1980s (40 years or so), I’ve seen my share of Word weirdness. Because I was heads-down, trying furiously to hit a deadline, I didn’t really notice what was going on. But slowly it dawned on me that:

  • cut-n-paste boundaries were off
  • item selection was acting strange
  • keyboard and mouse responses were slow and cranky
  • menu commands were sluggish

Finally I thought to myself “Maybe updating Word while I was working wasn’t such a good idea.” I did close and then reopen all files, but apparently that was insufficient. So I went for the first step in any real Office repair: a reboot. I closed all open apps, initiated a restart, and crossed my fingers.

Shoulda Done That in the First Place!

After the reboot, it took a while to set my content elements back up. I opened three source files, a target file, and a template/go-by file, and then started over on the target file. Everything worked just like it was supposed to. I was able to finish the second try at the project in about an hour and half, more or less in line with my original estimate.

What I hadn’t counted on — and won’t get caught on again for a while — is that permitting Office to update itself while I was trying to hit a deadline wasn’t a good idea. I ended up losing another 90 minutes to that debacle. But eventually, I figured out what was up, and responded appropriately. And isn’t that just the way things go sometimes — especially when deadline loom — here in Windows-World? You bet!

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