Fun_People Archive
17 Dec
English Professor Discovers flaw in MS Word

Date: Sat, 17 Dec 94 16:13:04 PST
To: Fun_People
Subject: English Professor Discovers flaw in MS Word

Forwarded-by: bostic@CS.Berkeley.EDU (Keith Bostic)
Forwarded-by: Wendell Craig Baker <>
Forwarded-by: sntaylor@leland.Stanford.EDU (Stewart Neff Taylor)

Press Release: MS Word Has Bug

English Professor Discovers flaw in MS Word 
By Brad Sandman
Redmond - A university English Professor discovered today that 
Microsoft's flagship word processor, MS Word 6.0, contains a subtle error 
that gives incorrect results to some spell check operations.  The spell 
checker will not give flawed results in most cases, as there is just one 
rule affected by the bug.  
Professor Niceguy from the University of Seattle explains the problem:  
"My research into English language usage caused me to discover an 
otherwise subtle problem in the MS Word spell checker.  After noticing a 
few inconsistencies in the results of some of my writings, I was able to 
narrow down the exact source of the bug.  There is an obscure English 
grammatical rule which specifies concurrent letter order for diphthong 
vowel pairs.  This algorithm is almost always applied in the same way, 
save one minor exception.  It is the exception which the checker is 
missing, and therefore errs on the application of the rule in a small 
percentage of its use."
Simply stated, the rule is often referred to as "the `i' before `e' 
rule."  Niceguy observes that it is the "except after `c' clause" that is 
at fault.  Professor Niceguy stressed that most users will never 
encounter the problem, and in fact, would probably not even notice it if 
it were to occur.  "It is really only the academic language community 
that would even care about this problem," he says.
Microsoft has acknowledged the bug, and has already provided a fix for 
the next scheduled release of Word.  A spokesperson for Microsoft 
reported that the spelling problem has been known to Microsoft for some 
time.  "In fact," says our source, "it has always existed on the 
Macintosh versions of Word, and nobody ever complained about it there."  
Upgrades to users will be handled via Microsoft's normal customer 
service lines.  The company has stressed that only academic users and 
language researchers will recieve a free fix -- all other users can take 
advantage of a special bug-fix upgrade price of US$39.95.  "After all, 
nobody needs that level of precision in spelling, anyway," says Bill 
Gates, CEO of Microsoft, in a letter posted to the Internet.
MS Word 7.0 for Windows, which includes the corrected spelling 
algorithm, will ship shortly after Windows95 in the second half of 1995. 
Microsoft has not yet indicated whether the release of their PowerPC 
Macintosh version of Word will have the fix.  
Just before this story went to press, IBM announced that they will 
provide free replacements for copies of Word which demonstrate this bug 
while running natively under OS/2.

[=] © 1994 Peter Langston []