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Solution to MSOffice “Not Responding” Error

By Brian | April 18, 2006 | Share on Facebook

Once again, the power of Google saves the day…

The other day, Windows automatically downloaded and installed a number of patches (as per my instructions – I used to look at each one, but I never, ever said “No,” so I just changed it to automatic. Go figure…). For those who are finding this through a Google search, the patches were: KB915597, KB890830, KB911565, KB911562, KB912812, KB908531, KB911567, KB892130 and KB890830.

Anyway, after the patches were installed, my Microsoft Office 2003 Applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook) all began exhibiting a quirky problem: If you did File…Open or File…Save As, and tried to navigate around the folder tree, the program would freeze up, eventually giving a “Not Responding” error, and forcing you to close it.

I had visions of backing up all of my data, reinstalling MSOffice, reinstalling all the LiveOffice patches, and praying the problem went away. But before I did any such thing, I typed “MSOffice Save As Not Responding” into Google, and it led me to this Google Groups discussion on the problem. The last poster in the thread, a guy named Tom [Pepper] Willett, found and linked to the Microsoft Support Page that detailed the problem and provided the (2-minute) fix.

To summarize quickly: The problem is an incompatability between the recent Windows patches (specifically, patch #KB908531) and Hewlett-Packard’s Share-to-Web software, which gets installed on your machine if you have HP PhotoSmart software, an HP DeskJet printer, an HP Scanner, some HP CD-DVD RWs, or an HP Camera. The Windows patch installed a program called VERCLSID.EXE, which “validates shell extensions before they are instantiated by the Windows Shell or Windows Explorer.” I have no idea what that means, but basically, it makes MSOffice freeze up when you try to navigate the folder tree.

The Microsoft page gives you an 8-step process to correct the problem, which involves adding a line to the Windows registry (they even put the line in a textbox so you can cut & paste it without having to re-type it yourself). Basically, what you’re doing is putting this HP software on a “white list,” so the VERCLSID.EXE program doesn’t trip over it. Problem solved – and I didn’t even have to reboot the machine.

Now, here’s the amazing part: the Windows update came down late Thursday, April 13th, or early Friday morning. The first post about the problem in the Google Groups thread was at 1:44AM on Friday morning. Within 48-hours, 12 people had weighed in, and the last person had posted the link to the Microsoft-authored solution (which was posted on April 15th – the site doesn’t specify the time).

All hail Metcalfe’s law: “The value of a network equals approximately the square of the number of users.”

Topics: Tech Talk | 2 Comments »

2 Responses to “Solution to MSOffice “Not Responding” Error”

  1. Jeff Porten says at April 20th, 2006 at 3:26 pm :
    Well, this would be why you don’t turn your patches onto automatic. If for no other reason than to wait a few days so you can be sure you’ve read about some of the most common issues in case it comes back to bite you.

    I’m sure you’re expecting me to post a snarky comment, but seeing as how I had to rescue an iBook two years ago that suffered utter brainfreeze from a Japanese camera driver, I’ll take a pass.

  2. Brian says at April 21st, 2006 at 1:09 pm :
    The potential tradeoff is

    a) waiting a couple of weeks to read about bad effects of the patch, and getting hit with some virus in the meanwhile, or

    b) installing the patch and dealing with the bad effects if & when they occur.

    I always choose (b) because dealing with the bad effects of the patch is at least as simple as rolling back the patch. In this case, it was even easier.

    Also, most of the Windows bugs you read so much about don’t effect me in the least, because I’m not running any server side app (MSExchange, SQLServer, etc.), which is where most of this stuff attacks. The e-mail based stuff, though, can affect me if I don’t patch right away.

    For all the snarky talk in the press, this really isn’t an OS issue. Everyone has to deal with buggy/corrupted/incompatible code at some point. That’s why guys like us have jobs…


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