back to article Today's bonkers bug report: Microsoft Edge can't print numbers

Microsoft's Edge browser is the subject of an amusing new bug report, alleging it somehow manages to screw up printing strings of numbers. The report on Microsoft's developer portal describes the issue where PDF files printed through Edge will display numbers and text incorrectly when exported. "Edge displays PDF correctly …

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Facepalm

Optional Title

1 & 1 is 2

2 & 2 is 4

4 & 4 is 11.7776

O noes!! Edge has come over all Pentium Pro!!

(In Binary, 4 is the rudest number)

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Re: Optional Title

132 is my kids preferred binary number...

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Re: In Binary, 4 is the rudest number

In answer to your post, my resonse is...

5

Which would have been funnier if El Reg had let me post a comment with nothing but the number 5 in the body. But it insists there has to be text, too.

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Coat

Re: In Binary, 4 is the rudest number

Depends, 4 is rude regardless of which side you begin counting from, 5 not so.

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Re: Optional Title

I will admit, 132 is also very rude, but by the time you have managed to count that high, you have forgotten why you were doing it.

Binary doesnt seem to be taught much in schools these days (at least around here), so using it really confuses some people; even "Maths" teachers have been caught out by the question:-

"How high can you count just using your fingers and thumbs."

Most answer "10", and have to be nudged to understand the correct answer is 1023.

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Thumb Up

Re: the correct answer is 1023.

Or -512 to 511 if you allow for a sign bit

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Re: Optional Title

I can fairly easily get my digits into three distinct positions, so that's 59048.

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Re: Optional Title

"I can fairly easily get my digits into three distinct positions, so that's 59048."
You can also have palms facing towards, or away from you, hands at waist, shoulder, or head height...

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Anonymous Coward

a comment with nothing but

the number five, the number five, the number five, the number five , the number five, the number five, the number five, the number five, the number five, and the number five.

You are welcome, handleoclast.

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Re: Optional Title

Nah, that's cheating, because you're using more than your fingers and thumbs.

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Well one of the features of Windows used to be...

... that it had a device independent API for graphics. So you could write code which displays something on your screen, and use the same code to write something to your printer, without having to care about what kind of printer it was or even if it was a printer or a plotter. The operating system would do its best to give you the same experience on any device...

... but that was in the 1990s and WinAPI (now known as Win16) now seems to be depreciated.

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Re: Well one of the features of Windows used to be...

It would have been even better if the API featured all the bloody functions that one needed when it came to printing and rendering. Hell, if printing used the same units throughout it would have been an improvement what with having to pass much code through various twips to inches to cm to pixel translators before using them.

However even aside from this, where MS really dropped the ball is that they could have easily implemented an OS level printer preview that would have worked for applications using the Windows printing mechanisms, as distinct from using PostScript direct. Unfortunately printing has always been the poor cousin of PC software design and even now printing support both at the Operating System and application level is pathetic. When was the last time you didn't scream at your web browser's half-baked and largely useless print of a web page? Have you tried printing an image using the Windows 10 native image viewer (hint: it doesn't work, right click file and click Print to print usng the old image viewer's print handler which does work, most of the time).

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TRT
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Re: Well one of the features of Windows used to be...

I think Apple probably patented that way back when Quartz came out. Using PDF draw commands as a native language for the screen drawing library. Now THAT is technological genius and foresight.

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Re: Well one of the features of Windows used to be...

Eh, I think that you'll find that Display Postscript was developed by Adobe and NeXT. Before Quartz.

Still, I guess you might be right: Apple probably decided to patent it, despite prior art, because ... splines?

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Re: Well one of the features of Windows used to be...

"Eh, I think that you'll find that Display Postscript was developed by Adobe and NeXT. Before Quartz."

Display Postscript was once upon a time used by VMS, but disappeared from the product when the licence with Adobe expired.

VMS had lost the battle for the workstation market by then, but Display Postscript was missed by those of us who still found it useful.

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Facepalm

Why, Microsoft? Why?

This is just stupid... there are enough people out there whose knee-jerk reaction to anything Microsoft is spew and rant without you doing things like this to help them...

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What's the problem?

Adobe Reader is in the store and Adobe might not be as bug free (or even secure) but at least they can count !!!

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Re: What's the problem?

"Adobe Reader is in the store and Adobe might not be as bug free (or even secure) but at least they can count !!!"

How do you create a PDF with Print to PDF using only Adobe Reader?

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PDF in a Browser?

Nutty idea anyway. I disable that on any browser, save PDF and use a REAL PDF viewer (that's secure and won't access internet, or cause browser to freeze due to enormous size).

I don't use Edge, but really this bug wouldn't bother me.

Windows: Foxit (Or Ghostview to extract images)

Linux: Xreader

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Re: PDF in a Browser?

Is Ghostview still a thing? Wow. It's saved my arse on many an occasion in the dim and distant past.

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Linux

Re: PDF in a Browser?

evince is cross-platform (and free, open source)

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Re: PDF in a Browser?

I thought foxit was now wrapped in spyware installer crap. Haven't touched it for years now.

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Re: PDF in a Browser?

Yeah, foxit got booted by me after it started the slippery slope of including ads and installing other crap.

I now use Sumatra PDF as my ultra-lightweight reader.

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Headmaster

Hmmmm

'...making math assignment.'

Excellent work, keep it up

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FAIL

Someone needs to look at the source code for this ...

What's the betting that somewhere there's lines to the effect of

Put best foots forward...

BANG! BANG!

Oh my.

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Childcatcher

I'm actually quite impressed

....that they managed to get it to print a PDF at all.

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If it works, try again?

"Printed content depends on selected printer, on printer settings, and on used computer (please try a different setup if first result looks correct)."

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Re: If it works, try again?

I'm guessing that refers to reproducing the error (for the lulz). If you try to fail, and you fail, have you succeeded?

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Re: If it works, try again?

This certainly sounds like an Edge case.

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Who are the alpha testers?

This seems like something that should have been caught with a proper internal testing group. But Slurp has not figured out making users alpha testers is a screw up waiting to happen. I am not sure to pity or mock anyone who uses Bloat Scheisse.

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So we've found a use for Abbott numbers :-)

http://www.newsbiscuit.com/2017/05/03/abbott-numbers-set-to-revolutionise-mathematics/

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Xerox had it too

Some years ago there was a problem reported with some Xerox printers that were printing some small font numerals as different numerals. IIRC the software was actually digitising the scan and reading it (partly to ensure banknotes weren't being copied) and then rewriting it to the actual print engine, and if the numbers were small enough they could be read incorrectly.

This therefore makes me wonder if Edge is reading the rasterised image sent to the screen and translating that for printing and not the source document. Does anybody with a better understanding have any ideas?

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Re: Xerox had it too

It sounds like the Xerox issue was that the scanning mode used a lossy compression algorithm, and that algorithm had trouble with digits. You scan in a "8" followed by a "6", the algorithm decides that, effectively, both are "8". Not the kind of space saving the user expects!

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Anonymous Coward

FFS, it's 2017 and web browsers still can't print...

...and Lord save me from having to stitch together screen caps of another browser window in Photoshop.

Firstly, +1 on the just download a pdf and open it outside the browser. I'd give this as general advice more often if I didn't catch people downloading a new copy every time they want to open it up.

Second, PDFs just need to go away. The technical details of the format are HORRIFYING. If you gave me a copy of the spec, an open code reference implementation, and 20 consulting programmers from the original Adobe team I still couldn't make a version that was compatable, accurate, and secure. It would only be LESS horrible. Just. start. over.

Lastly, on browser based printing in general, why is this still in the perennial dark age of computing?

Mozilla had an unfilled position for the maintainer of the browsers print functions for years. Safari has a reader view, but still can't handle page breaks or let you adjust the layout to print properly. Then there is Chrome. Even though it hijacks the whole print system, it still can't format a page properly, or handle adjusting the printer settings. Add the unnecessary round trip up to Googles servers and back as a bonus.

This is neither an accident or incompetence. It is malice.

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Facepalm

And in other news...

Microsoft owned up to further bugs in its leading and much loved Windows 10 product, whereby, on certain dialogue boxes, clicking 'No', 'Cancel', 'Back' or 'Close' was interpreted as 'Yes, Sure, Take What You Need And Do What You Will!'

When pressed, a Microsoft spokesperson issued the statement, 'Yeah, whatever...'

Microsoft is not alone here: a similar bug, but without the accompanying UI, surfaced in systemd.

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Anonymous Coward

counts '1,2,3,4' as '1,1,4,4'

So it is correct, on average.

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Orv
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Good thing they didn't follow Sun practice, then they'd be mapping 0,1,2,3 to 0,3,2,1.

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Meh

When we set up a new machine..

..we automatically switch the default browser to IE from Edge. While I usually use a simple script to set the defaults for web browsing to IE and viewing PDFs to Acrobat Reader, sometimes I have to switch manually and I derive a perverse pleasure in ignoring the "Check it out" message from Windows and clicking "Switch anyway", not giving Edge a chance.

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Anonymous Coward

There's something I *really* don't like in this bug..

.. and that's the idea that there is something actively reviewing and possibly rewriting data sent to the printer (probably worth checking if it does it during "save to file" as well to address any attempts to preserve a webpage). We only know it now because it went haywire, but WTF is something like that doing in the code?

Changing election results? Making it look like posts negative over Microsoft get more downvotes than in reality?

Why does a browser need a function that manipulates its output?

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Pint

Who cares?

99% of Windows users live in China.

99% of these buy their copy on the street for 10 Yuan, 15 if you add photoshop.

100% of these copies are the Ultimate versions - why waste good money on low class shite?

The PRC government has recognized this by issuing all official online documents and fill-out-forms as .doc only, so nobody even knows what .pdf is, anyway.

Note: Since Linux is free, why even use it? To save 98.87 (or whatever) USD is much more fun!

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WTF?

Here we go again, Fan-boism at it's worst...

Soooo, this is a bug that you have to go hunting for on different systems?

"Edge displays PDF correctly but printed content differs notably," the bug notice reads. "Printed content depends on selected printer, on printer settings, and on used computer (please try a different setup if first result looks correct)."

So, you could try 1000 systems and not have this issue?

MS, (as other devs do), try to cater to as many different combinations of systems/software/printers etc., and miss a couple... So that explains all the vitriol here for MS?

I use whatever works, whatever OS etc., that gets the job done...

So, there is a bug that happens on *some*, *probably very few* computers... Welcome to the world of PCs.

I think a lot of people need to pull their heads outta their arses and understand that *nothing* works perfectly, no matter how loved up with your own OS of choice you are.

At my place of work, people use whichever OS/Browser works best for the current task at hand... Guess what, they have issues with Chrome/FF/IE/Edge, but just shrug their shoulders and use another that does work because, guess what again, they have work to do.

Someone earlier stated that for PDFs you should always use an external piece of software, I agree totally. I have mostly made people understand at my workplace that if they need to print a PDF then they should save it and open it in one of the reader programs.

Now... OS's, they are all decent enough for work and personal home usage. I have multiple linux servers, Windows PCs, and MacOS here. I have Android on a Samsung S5 and an iPhone 7+. I use whatever I need at whatever time it is needed. I do not criticize OS's because I know that none of them are perfect. Why can't more people understand that they are all imperfect?

I rarely post on El'Reg, but the amount of negativity from fanbois towareds whichever thing is currently hated to be very disappointing.. C'mon some people, get a life, their are more important things to shout about!!!!!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Here we go again, Fan-boism at it's worst...

I rarely post on El'Reg, but the amount of negativity from fanbois towareds whichever thing is currently hated to be very disappointing.. C'mon some people, get a life, their are more important things to shout about!!!!!

If this was a normal bug I'd agree with you, but something that sits in the data stream and is changing information before it gets recorded with permanence is NOT trivial. Someone referred to the Intel coprocessor bug, and I think this is indeed as serious and potentially dangerous, and by blocking any alternatives MS prevents any remediation until they get around to it in their own sweet time.

I'm not normal one to wave the FOSS banner around (as I hate the associated debates) but this IS the exact reason why openness often works better - I have seen Linux bugs fixed only hours after discovery because someone could grab the code, work out a way to address the issue and then submit their solution.

No, this is not fanboi level commenting on something trivial, this really is BAD as in "bloody well stop using this for anything with numbers or engineering until it's fixed and verified" bad.

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Re: Here we go again, Fan-boism at it's worst...

Why would you class this as important as the Pentium bug?

It's a bug that prints numbers.... Shouldn't you check numbers when printed?

The Pentium bug involved a complete feckup on calculation of numbers lol

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Re: Here we go again, Fan-boism at it's worst...

"Why would you class this as important as the Pentium bug?

It's a bug that prints numbers.... Shouldn't you check numbers when printed?"

So someone should individually check every digit of every number in that spreadsheet / online bank statement / online receipt every time they save to a file?

I'd say this is a lot worse.

Just last month I had saved my annual earnings tax statement (W2 in the US), which is only available online, and what I saw online was completely different from what I saved for backup and printed (different issue, stupid special font problem, lots of "?"'s instead of real numbers printing from any other machine).

I couldn't file online without making up a number for an empty field, and if I tried to file that paper it would have been rejected. If it hadn't been such a large screw-up, but just a couple of digits it could have been a huge hassle. So many things wrong in that sequence, but anyway.

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Re: Here we go again, Fan-boism at it's worst...

So, you didnt check? So you relied on another company?

I couldn't file online without making up a number for an empty field, and if I tried to file that paper it would have been rejected. If it hadn't been such a large screw-up, but just a couple of digits it could have been a huge hassle. So many things wrong in that sequence, but anyway.

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Meh

Windows 10 printing in general..

..is half-broken. From the idiotic message "If you set this as your default printer, Windows will stop managing it." which does nothing but confuse most people, to the way printers added from a print server show up weirdly for a while before settling down. (after the normal insane delay just displaying devices and printers) Oh, and drivers are missing for very common printers too.

Then there's the actual printing--why is it printing generally works the worst from Microsoft's own apps? I was trying to print out a BitLocker recovery key using Notepad FFS and got nothing but blank pages. Word did something else odd. Pasting into Notepad++ allowed a normal print. Print drivers? Well maybe, but this was printing to a very common HP Laserjet using MS's own drivers, and doesn't explain well why it works in some apps and not others.

I'd have to agree that printing seems to be like something Microsoft's devs slapped on after waking up with a hangover the morning of the release date and saying "Oh shit dude, we forgot to do printing!"

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Re: Windows 10 printing in general..

"I'd have to agree that printing seems to be like something Microsoft's devs slapped on after waking up with a hangover the morning of the release date and saying "Oh shit dude, we forgot to do printing!""
I have relatively few printing problems in Windows, I suspect because I have a Postscript printer. At least in Windows I can choose whether to print in colour or monochrome in the Print dialog box. Cinnamon Mint requires opening a web browser to choose the correct setting at the printer. There is no option in the Linux Print dialog box to do this.

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Re: Windows 10 printing in general..

"Cinnamon Mint requires opening a web browser to choose the correct setting at the printer. There is no option in the Linux Print dialog box to do this."

Really? I run Mint and I can choose color or b/w. Admittedly cancelling a bunged up print job is a little harder in Mint, though it at least cancels quicker than in Windows..

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Re: Windows 10 printing in general..

"There is no option in the Linux Print dialog box to [print in monochrome or color]."

Unless I'm totally misunderstanding you, that's not the case under MATE, TDE or KDE 4 in PCLinuxOS -- it's offering me 'Color' options of Vivid, Natural, or None. I do have to manually click on my printer (even though it's the default) to see that tab, though; maybe Mint/Cinnamon have the same quirk?

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Linux printing (was Windows 10 printing...)

@ Unicornpiss & Trilkhai

Print dialog box in Firefox allows choosing a printer, paper size and orientation. That's it. No duplex option even.

Chrome allows duplexing and access to a further dialog box where I can adjust the amount of cyan, magenta, yellow and black individually. But then I need to remember what the original settings were to shift back to colour printing.

On Windows 7 Chrome's print dialog has a drop-down for Print in Black & white, or Colour. Firefox's print dialog has a checkbox to print colour images and backgrounds.

Cinnamon Mint 17.3, Lexmark C543dn.

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