Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Microsoft & Macs - Friends or Foe?

I recently had to fix a client's installation of Microsoft Office 2008 for the Mac which decided to act up. Why did it act up, you say. Aren't Macs supposed to be a superior platform to Windows. At least , that's what all the Mac vs. PC tv commercials claim. The actor representing the Mac is so cool-looking compared to the dumpty looking guy representing the PC.

Well, here's what happened. We successfully installed Office 2008 and it was working fine until the fatal event. The Mac, having a very polite operating system, OSX 10.5 Leopard, asked if it could install an update to Office 2008. Well, the client agreed to the upgrade of Service Pack 1 (SP1) and soon found herself well along that "path to upgrade hell". Immediately after the upgrade (remember the concept of upgrade is supposed to result in a better application. Hence, the terminology of upgrade, not downgrade is used) the Office Setup Assistant showed up every time you clicked on an application. Again, it was very polite. It asked if the user wanted to learn more via the Internet or register the software. After you click next, the Autoupdater shows up and asks if you wish to check for an update (didn't we just do that?). After closing that box, setup assistant starts up again (Oh, its deja vu' all over again). We were also treated to the SBOD (Spinning Beachball of Death). This is somewhat similar to the Windows BSOD but doesn't look as threatening and is much colorful. Good manners must be an integral part of the Leopard OS.

As this behavior was putting a severe crimp in using the Office Applications so I tried a few fixes.
Fix #1 - After performing a google search, and learning that this is a widespread problem, I deleted the plist files in the Microsoft folder. They were -

/Library/Preferences/Microsoft/Office 2008/Microsoft Office 2008 Settings.plist
/Applications/Microsoft Office 2008/Office/OfficePID.plist

After starting Word 2008 again, the Office application asked for the product ID and then the Setup Assisant started its repetitive nature again. Oh, well.

Fix #2 - I uninstalled Office 2008 via the Remove Office tool and dragged the remainder of the Microsoft folder to the Trash. After a restart and re-installation of Office, the applications began to behave normally, well...sort of. Word had a few error messages and when Entourage was launched, it stated that this version of Entourage was incompatible with the Entourage identity found. Apparently, the service pack 1 update changed the Entourage files just enough to make it incompatible with the original installation. On to the next fix.

Fix #3 - Use the Office Remove Tool again. Drag the Microsoft folder to the Trash. Search for any remaining Office 2008ft Plist entries and delete if found. Then delete the Entourage 2008 identity file at /Documents/Microsoft User Data/Office 2008 Identities/your identity. Restart the computer and do another installation of Office 2008. Keep fingers crossed. Complete installation and see if the applications work. Everything looks ok. Entourage starts and requests a new identity. An archive of the Entourage data is imported from a flash drive (Remember that mandate - Keep a Backup of your critical data handy and in muliple locations) and after a final check ---We do a happy dance.

So, it would appear the Office 2008 SP1 is not quite ready for primetime and updates should be set to manual control. Talk to you later.

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