Windows Explored

Everyday Windows Desktop Support, Advanced Troubleshooting & Other OS Tidbits

The Case of the Word Open Document Delays

Posted by William Diaz on February 4, 2011


After a certain amount of time troubleshooting Word issues (not document issues) in a large enterprise environment that uses several templates, macros, and other add-ins, one develops a troubleshooting drill. This normally involves isolating a problem to a startup template or add-in. We have a lot of them and they are always increasing. For Office Word 2003, you can find most of these in C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\OFFICE11\STARTUP:

To start the troubleshooting process, you can create a new folder in this location and methodically move the templates into them and start Word after moving each template until the problem goes away.

In the case here, though, the problem persisted after removing all the startup templates. The issue was that when opening documents from our document management databases, there was a noticeable delay before the document would open of about 15-20 seconds and a “Document1” window would remain open in addition to the opened document each time. Now before you think this is not that big a deal, consider that throughout the course of an average day our users open dozens of Word documents from our document management databases. What might seem like a tolerable delay for the occasional Word user opening the occasional document becomes extremely frustrating for our average user.

The Startup folder is not the only location Word will look to load add-ins. To see what other add-ins are still loaded in Word after moving all the Startup templates, open Word and look in Templates and Add-ins:

These add-ins are loaded based on load behavior values from the registry. You can see above there were three other suspects but my suspicion was already on the ScanSoftPDF.dot. Why? I noted that the path was pointing to a previous version of the Scansoft PDF Converter software. We had since moved to version 5. Correspondingly, a PDF Converter 5.1 folder should be created when Word is opened for the first time after PDF Converter 5 is installed.

The affected user’s path (Also note the bloated size of the ScanSoftPDF.dot):
image
The correct folder path:

To test whether or not the delays were truly being caused by this template, I opened the registry and navigated to HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Office\Word\Addins and changed the load behavior from 3 to 2 (see this MSDN article for understanding load behavior values):

Additionally, there is another Scansoft PDF component called ZnWordAddIn.ZNPDFWord (which is part of the Scansoft PDF Create Printer) that also needs to have the load behavior changed; this resides in HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Office\Word\Addins:

After disabling both startup items in the registry, I opened a document from our document database and the Word document delays and “Document1” window no longer occurred. Since this was only a work around, I decided to uninstall Scansoft PDF Converter and re-install. However, the issue still persisted. It turned out that the folder path that pointed to the ScanSoftPDF.dot was still \user\Application Data\ScanSoft\PDF Converter 4.0\Templates and no PDF Converter 5.1 folder was created. To correct this, I deleted the Scansoft folder in \user\Application Data and then opened Word again; the process of opening Word then created the correct folder path and a new ScanSoftPDF.dot. Afterwards, the problem no longer occurred.

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