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Saturday, October 23, 2004

Desktop inconsistencies in loading files

Working on the Computing Helpdesk this morning I noticed a fascinating inconsistency in the way Microsoft Windows and its apps work, and have worked for the past decade.

One of the users had become confused about how to insert a picture into Microsoft Word. To be more precise, she wanted to view the picture from her CD first to verify it was the right one, then try inserting it into her document.

When she came to the helpdesk she told me that 'Word can't see the picture, it's asking me if I want to load it as Rich Text Format'. On attending her PC, I found my initial suspicion was correct - she'd attempted to use Word's File -> Open menu to view the file.

Now whilst, to a seasoned user, this seems like a silly thing to try and do, to a new user it's perfectly understandable.

Why should someone have to use one method to view a file (Open My Computer -> CD drive -> double-click on the image) and another totally different method to use the file (Open Word -> Insert -> Picture)?

As far as she was concerned, she was working in Word and she knew Word could manipulate graphics files. Therefore she expected, quite reasonably, that Word could also allow her to view the image beforehand.


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