Feeds

'Draconian' Microsoft promises to make Office work again

Busting through SP3

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Update Microsoft has threatened to release a fix for an Office 2003 update that may well have the productivity suite work as intended once again.

As reported earlier Service Pack 3 for Office takes the unprecedented step of barring access to files created with earlier versions of the product. Install the Service Pack and your stash of documents (the ones you may be keeping for legal reasons) are suddenly just so much wasted disk and tape space.

We are talking seriously restrictive measures here. Office offers no warnings, the SP cannot be rolled back and there are no options that an average end-user can take to fix the problem.

Yes, that does indeed mean the lack of a dialog box saying:

"I am a sentient human being. I can assess risk. I can spell ‘responsibility’ and even, occasionally, assume it. I really, really want/need to open this old Word document. So go ahead, make my day.”

Just:

Screenshot of Office warning

It's not a bug . . . .

Microsoft did issue a registry hack but covered it with dire warnings about how dangerous hacking the registry can be.

The word draconian seemed appropriate, so we used it with Reed Shaffner, Microsoft Office Worldwide Product Manager. Very disarmingly, he agreed.

“Yes, I agree, it was too draconian.” he said. We hate it when Product Managers do that.

He then went on to say that in response to the user feedback, Microsoft plans to issue a new fix in the very near future. The fix will come in the form of a link that you can follow which will hack (sorry, modify) your registry for you so that the problem goes away. And we'll be providing that link as soon as possible.

Still, Shaffner was at pains to point out that using the fix leaves the machine open to the very vulnerability that the measure was designed to stop, so Microsoft would still advise people not to do this unless they have a very good reason.

He also supplied more information about the vulnerability. He said that the problem wasn’t in the file format as such; it was in the code that is used to parse these earlier files. We were just about to point out that this was Microsoft’s code (and, therefore Microsoft’s fault) but he beat us to it. We hate it when they do that as well.

So, zero out of ten for the heavy handed SP but grudging respect for actually listening to users and fixing the problem. ®

Update

Since we filed this, Microsoft has in fact managed to post the Office fixes. Travel over to this support site and look for the "How to enable blocked file types" heading.

UnblockWord.reg. Lovely.

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Preview redux: Microsoft ships new Windows 10 build with 7,000 changes
Latest bleeding-edge bits borrow Action Center from Windows Phone
Google opens Inbox – email for people too thick to handle email
Print this article out and give it to someone tech-y if you get stuck
Microsoft promises Windows 10 will mean two-factor auth for all
Sneak peek at security features Redmond's baking into new OS
FTDI yanks chip-bricking driver from Windows Update, vows to fight on
Next driver to battle fake chips with 'non-invasive' methods
UNIX greybeards threaten Debian fork over systemd plan
'Veteran Unix Admins' fear desktop emphasis is betraying open source
Entity Framework goes 'code first' as Microsoft pulls visual design tool
Visual Studio database diagramming's out the window
Google+ goes TITSUP. But WHO knew? How long? Anyone ... Hello ...
Wobbly Gmail, Contacts, Calendar on the other hand ...
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.