Open XML in Microsoft Word ruins essays

There’s a bug in Microsoft’s Open XML, the format it fights so hard to defend, that decides to slice spaces at random from text.

For example, a university student banged out an essay on a Windows 7, 64-bit, Office 2010 32-bit machine and sent it along to a Windows XP computer running Office 2007. In a last minute rush, the document was printed and turned in, after having triple checked the essay for spelling and formatting errors.

When the essay came back, the student had 20 percent of the overall grade slashed because of frequent spacing errors between words. Double checking the original copy – there were no spacing errors. On a class computer there were plenty.

There has been no word from Microsoft yet. 

The bug affects users porting documents from Word 2010 with the .docx extension to Word 2007. If Word 2007 has a different printer driver, spaces are dropped at random when it’s opened, and if you save in Word 2007, they stay there when you head back to 2010, Tim Anderson says from his bog

Anderson speculates. It reflects, he says, the fact that Word is a word processor and not a professional text layout tool. “Word processor documents may change formatting slightly according to the printer driver installed; and I’d guess that the missing spaces occur when the line breaks are altered by a different printer driver.

“This is why a workaround is for both users to set Adobe PDF as the default printer driver, making them consistent. Another workaround is to revert to the old binary .doc format.”