Sunday, January 25, 2009

Dead to me: Word 2007 auto-save recovery

You would think that there might be some compelling reason to upgrade from Office 2003 to 2007, or perhaps to consider paying for office instead of the wonderful 3.0 that is totally free.  You would have thought wrong as far as this instance goes.

My wife recently had a problem where the stupid windows auto-updates rebooted her computer in the middle of the night and she had (contrary to normal practice) not saved a new document to a filename.  But fortunately, there were the office Auto Saves, right?

Well, to recap:

* Auto save worked just fine.
* But what if a user is not paying attention when they next launch Word and ignore the auto save recovery window upon recovery?  Uhh, word nicely deletes the autosave file.  Even VIM would err on the side of leaving your auto-recovery file in place.
* Fortunately, I have nightly backups.  So, I was able to recover the .asd file from the temporary directory (strangely %USERPROFILE%\Application Data\Microsoft\Word by default).  Now what?
* It should be as simple as File -> Open, right?  Well, that's what Microsoft's own documentation says you should do.  But this is WRONG.  You get an "Unsupported file type" error or similar.
* It was only after renaming to a .docx file and trying to open it that a helpful message said, "if you are trying to recover a file, open it _this_ way".
* Sheesh, can't the program
a) know how to open and deal with its own damned auto recover files in the first place?  or
b) not require the _user_ to do something different.  Reminds me of Bill Cosby as Noah when god tells him he's got two male animals and he has to go back out and get a female instead, Noah says, "I'm not going to do that -- you change one of them!!" 

* One Internet posting about how to restore this was to use Open Office Writer to open the .asd file and save as a .doc file.  That actually works great.

Open Office can do it the user-friendly way, why not Word?  What exactly do you get for $400 list price again?

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