Dictionary spells F-A-I-L

This Encarta-based system tray app just didn't work.

Tray Dictionary is a free desktop dictionary tool based on the Encarta online dictionary. With it you can look up words quickly without having to open an online dictionary site. It also allows quick right-click lookups in Internet Explorer.

We opened Tray Dictionary's Start Menu folder and clicked the program icon to open its System Tray interface, which is anchored by a dictionary icon. Clicking this icon called up a tiny search field for quick lookups. Since we park the Windows taskbar on the right edge of our wide-screen desktop, it covered Tray Dictionary's search button, and we couldn't drag it away. When we dragged the taskbar horizontally and back again, Tray Dictionary's search box realigned itself. However, we had to do this every time we used the entry field. We typed in a word, "splurge," and clicked the Search button. A page popped up with the Encarta logo and "Language Advisory" in red letters. Language Advisory? For splurge? Not a good start in our book. We clicked "View full definition" for splurge, which opened an IE page telling us the MSN Encarta page we were trying to access was missing. We decided to try another word, "annoyance," and once again received a Language Advisory. We pressed Esc to close the definition box (or where a definition is supposed to go) and tried one more time, typing in "futility." Once again we received a language advisory. By this time, we were sorely tempted to enter a word that ought to produce a Language Advisory. We decided to exercise scholarly restraint and look for some settings or options that could make Tray Dictionary work, but the online Help file is extremely basic. We were able to highlight words in IE and right-click to search them in Tray Dictionary, but with the same lack of results.

There's nothing wrong with Tray Dictionary's concept, just its execution. We'd like to see a properly functioning version, but until then we'll stick with our online references. They're fast enough and reliable, too.

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