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article imageBonkers browser bug: Microsoft Edge prints '123456' as '114447'

By James Walker     May 8, 2017 in Technology
Microsoft Edge has a strange bug that appears when trying to print a document containing lots of numbers. The digits have a tendency to get mixed up and switch places, leading to major inaccuracies in documents. Microsoft is working on a fix.
The bizarre bug report was filed on Microsoft Edge's development platform last week. It was noticed by Bleeping Computer and has been described as "one of the weirdest" software glitches of all time.
The issue has been confirmed to be present in the latest version of Microsoft Edge. It occurs on computers running the Anniversary Update and Creators Update versions of Windows 10. The exact scale of the problem hasn't been verified but a number of printer, computer and Edge version configurations have been confirmed to be affected. Each printer will display the numbers differently.
In the example given in the original report, Edge is tasked with printing a PDF file containing the number "123456." When the document is sent to the Microsoft Print to PDF virtual printer, the resulting second PDF file displays "114447" instead. The scrambled digits have no relation to the original input.
Microsoft hasn't explained what's causing the issue so for now users are best advised to stop using Edge when printing files containing sensitive data. The browser could cause catastrophe if financial documents or business order details were printed and not manually verified afterwards. Microsoft has confirmed the existence of the bug and its online issue tracker shows that engineers have been assigned to fix it.
"We've received customer feedback that certain PDFs may render incorrectly on Microsoft Edge," a Microsoft spokesperson said to The Register. "We're actively investigating this issue and will share updates on our public portal when they are available."
Hacker News users pointed out that the problems appear to stem from the table layout used in the sample document. As the text inside the cells is also misprinted, the current theory is that Edge re-renders the entire document when printing a PDF. This in itself is strange as PDFs are supposed to be rendered identically irrespective of output format.
The problem has been compared to a similar bug in Xerox photocopiers detailed back in 2015. Like Microsoft Edge, the devices were garbling numbers in the documents they printed, causing problems at the businesses who used them. David Kriesel explained the issue at the Chaos Communication Congress, saying the copiers were "literally making stuff up."
There's no word yet on when Microsoft will issue an update for Edge to fix its printing problems. The company's regular monthly updates will be released tomorrow on "Patch Tuesday." The lack of promised status messages on the issue tracker suggests Microsoft is still working out what's gone wrong, implying the fix won't make it into tomorrow's patch. Microsoft will need to decide whether it's worth pushing out the update as a separate release later in the month.
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