The Computer Blog

Friday, May 23, 2008

Microsoft Office 2008 SP1 May Hose File Launching

Though I hadn’t seen it myself, I had read at the MacFixIt website about problems some people were having with the Microsoft Office 2008 Service Pack 1 Update. Until last night. My wife mentioned in one of those asides that really mean “ I’m having a problem I need you to fix” that when she double-clicked on a Microsoft Office file, the correct application launched but the file refused to load. MacFixIT and the Mactopia websites both had a recommended fix, so I went into the troubleshooting with great hope I’d shortly have it solved and be a hero once again.

MacFixIt suggested I force OS X to update prebinding using terminal commands. So, I launched into the “sudo” world and typed “sudo update_prebinding -debug -root / -force”, hit the Return key, supplied her admin password, and hit Return again, and watched lines of code scroll quickly past as her iMac jumped though its prebinding hoops. Once it was done, I double-clicked on a Word file on her desktop. Word launched, but the file didn’t launch with it. I rebooted her iMac and tried it again and got the same result. Obviously, that hadn’t worked.

Microsoft, on the other hand, suggested if you had such a problem you use the Remove Office utility (in your Microsoft Office 2008 folder) to uninstall Office 2008. They wanted you to then reinstall Office 2008, download the SP1 (12.1.0) patch, update the installation, and then start it. So, I did all that, too. Immediately after, I double-clicked a Word file and it properly launched, so I closed Word and tried it again. It didn’t work!!! I had no idea what had changed in the five seconds since I had last launched the application, but obviously something had. So, I used Remove Office to uninstall Office again.

Using Spotlight, I hunted down every Microsoft Office related file I could find, especially preference files (.plist) and dragged them all to the Trash. I then re-installed Office 2008 from scratch. Once that was done, I confirmed that file launching using a double-click worked by using files in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint formats. I then installed the Microsoft Office 12.0.1 patch and confirmed that the double-click launch was still working. Out of time, I quit after calling up Microsoft Auto-Update and selecting “Manual” for the updating controller. The last thing I wanted was for that software to download the SP1 package while I wasn’t there and have my wife blindly install it (admittedly, that is something she almost never does).

Obviously, I didn’t fix the problem but have, for now, and using a workaround. I’ve asked my wife not to download and install the SP1 patch. I’m going to wait for Microsoft to issue a follow-up or wait for someone else to come up with a definitive answer to what’s causing the problem and relay a definitive fix. I’m not willing to spend all my time trying to fix the problem like I used to when I ran only Windows. I’ve got better things to do, real things to do, like working with the photos I shot at my wife’s nephew’s wedding last weekend. I realized last night I really screwed up by not shooting in RAW, but that’s a story for a whole ‘nother blog.

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