Office 2007 is a great piece of work, but there are some annoyances. Here’s one. Ever tried to grab some text from a web page and paste it into Word? I do this, using IE7, and often experience an irritating delay of up to 30 seconds or so, during which time this message appears:
“Contacting the server for information. Press ESC to cancel”. If you press ESC, nothing gets pasted. If you let it do its thing, then eventually your text gets pasted, by default with some attempt to preserve layout. I almost always just want the plain text, so I select that from the little paste menu that appears (the last vestige of smart tags).
What’s going on here? Well, the Windows clipboard is a complex and ancient Windows feature. When you copy something to the clipboard, applications may place data there in several different formats. Creating all these different formats can be an expensive operation, so there is also an option for the recipient application (client) to query the sending application (server) dynamically. In other words, the paste operation might initiate a conversation, instead of just grabbing some data and inserting it into a document. It wouldn’t astonish me if it still uses DDE, the forerunner to COM from the days of Windows 3.1.
If the paste operation is complex, you can forgive a little delay. But Word 2007 now lets you specify a default paste, which I have set to plain text. I’m confident that IE7 puts plain text on the clipboard as soon as you copy. In fact, you can prove this by copying something in IE7, then pasting into Notepad, which only understands plain text. It appears instantly. Then switch to Word 2007 and repeat the paste. You still get half a minute delay, before the text appears.
The explanation must be that Word 2007 gets all the complex formats first, and only then pastes the plain text. In consequence, even if you only want the plain text you nevertheless have to suffer the delay. The only way round it is to use Paste Special and select plain text from the formats on offer.
I guess it might be possible to write a macro to do this and attach it to a keyboard shortcut. Perhaps I’ll investigate when I get a quiet moment.