Can we talk about how copy and paste sucks so much in Windows?

copy CTRLC

I’ve been using Microsoft Windows for a long time. Starting all the way back in 1993 with my family's first PC, a Gateway P5-60. There is an expectation on Windows, that when copying something, it gets copied. Years ago, starting in the final days of Windows XP, I started noticing something strange happening. When copying text, it didn't always copy. When I would paste it, it would paste something old, and not what I just copied.

Because of this, I have trained myself when copying a file to highlight it and hold down CTRL and mash the C key repeatedly, resulting in CTRL + CCCCCCCCC. I know many of my friends and colleagues also experience the same issue, but think it's only affecting them. It's more widespread than you think.

I’ll never forget mowing a lawn with a zero-turn mower, listening to the Security Now podcast, and hearing Steve Gibson talk about his recent issues with the Windows clipboard and how it has become unreliable. The following was said on the Security Now Podcast episode 249 on May 20, 2010:

LEO: Right. Question 3 from listener Matt. He says, "Please, Sir, can I have some more?" Episode 248 was fantastic. Oh, and you're right about ctrl-c, the copy-paste bug. It's been like that for a few years. So much so that it's second nature for me to always now press ctrl-cc. And that always works. But it's a pain in MS Office because it brings up a multiple-paste toolbar. So everybody's responding to this. I mean, apparently it's something people are really having happen.

STEVE: Yes. I wanted to drop this in for Matt, mostly as a placeholder and reminder. Many of our listeners have responded that they were so happy to hear this brought up.

LEO: Not just you.

STEVE: Because they've been thinking it was just them for a long time. And one person wrote a lengthy piece of email where he's convinced this happened at Service Pack 3.

LEO: Oh, interesting. Of XP.

STEVE: Of XP, and it's in Vista and 7, that Microsoft did deliberately, in their security enhancements for Service Pack 3, they changed the way the keyboard hooking technology works in order to thwart some behavior of keystroke logging. And that it's his belief - and this is not confirmed, but I just wanted to share it - that that was the boundary; that Service Pack 2 works fine, reliably, and that it got broken somehow subtly when Microsoft went to Service Pack 3 and beyond, that that was the boundary. And it had something to do with the way Microsoft increased the security in order to thwart keystroke logging. So I don't know whether that's true or not, but I thought that was an interesting thought. And I know that Paul and Microsoft are pursuing this. So if you think of it when you talk to Paul again.

Fast-forward 12 years and 5 Windows versions later, and I'm still experiencing the same unreliable copy and paste. I've also posted about it in the forum:

The response has been mixed, half the people have experienced the issue at some point, while others never experienced it at all.

When searching the Feedback Hub, this issue has been posted numerous and people have been chiming in. Here is one such feedback post. It has 394 upvotes and 18 comments, Microsoft has also responded by saying "We've got it". That means they know about it.

Feedback hub copy and paste

When you're copying and pasting next time, notice if you have problems. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.

Let us know in the comments below about how reliable the Windows clipboard works for you?

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