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Archive for the ‘Office’ Category

The Case of the Missing Image Preview Tiles

Posted by William Diaz on January 23, 2020

I have been out of it for sometime now, often tied up with one thing or the other and have not been able to contribute recently. But here is a quicky on an often overlooked part of Process Monitor, specifically the basic logging it does for Network Activity.

In this particular case, when using the Insert Online Pictures option available in a new Outlook message, after selecting one of the categories in the initial image window, a series of grayed-out tiles are presented instead of the actual image preview tiles:


I fired up Process Monitor and reproduced the issue, filtering for processes only from Outlook.exe. While quickly scrolling through the events, I noticed a couple entries for Network Activity with an obvious clue as to what was blocking the image previews. I further isolated these events by removing activity for File, Registry, and Process Activity, keeping only Network:


You can see that after hitting the initial IP (52.109…) for what looks to be, a disconnect takes place with path from, which is our firewall returning a false-positive for what it suspects to be adult content. To verify this was the case, I changed  Outlook to use a legacy proxy server (this is done via IE > Internet Options > Connection Settings) that we still keep around and was able to see the image preview tiles after performing the process again. The next course of action would be to modify the company firewall to allow the traffic.


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ODT Setup Packager Error

Posted by William Diaz on February 16, 2016

Recently I needed to update my Office 2013 App-V 5 package. This is done via the Microsoft ODT tool by first downloading the content and then packaging using the /packager command. The download went fine, but upon running the packager phase the command would immediately go straight back to the prompt, which is an indication that something went wrong because the packager phase usually takes a good 10 minutes to run. I checked and double-checked the xml files used to build the package but it looked good. Troubleshooting the ODT setup is pretty straight forward, however; simply locate the setup logs in %temp%. They are named by computer name name + date.log. In my case, I kept encounter the following line in the logs:

02/12/2016 15:00:31.828    SETUP (0x1cc8)    0xc40        Click-To-Run Telemetry    ami7s    Monitorable    TryLaunchClient::HandleStateAction: C2R Client Install Process returned code 17003   
02/12/2016 15:00:31.828    SETUP (0x1cc8)    0xc40        Click-To-Run Telemetry    apx75    Monitorable    TryLaunchClient::HandleStateAction: C2R Client returned failing error code 17003   
02/12/2016 15:00:31.828    SETUP (0x1cc8)    0xc40        Click-To-Run Telemetry    aqdyq    Monitorable    TryHandleClientError::HandleStateAction: Another Scenario Running. Showing Error UI.   
02/12/2016 15:00:31.828    SETUP (0x1cc8)    0xc40        Click-To-Run Telemetry    aoh9g    Medium    TryShowUI::HandleStateAction: Failure has occured, admin has disabled failure UI.   
02/12/2016 15:00:31.828    SETUP (0x1cc8)    0xc40        Click-To-Run Telemetry    ami7r    Medium    TryShowUI::HandleStateAction: Showed Failure UI. Couldn’t start Office installation  We’re sorry, but we could not start your Office installation. Another installation is in progress. Please try again later.     
02/12/2016 15:00:31.828    SETUP (0x1cc8)    0xc40        Click-To-Run    aoh72    Medium    ExitBootStateMachine::HandleStateAction: Bootstrapper workflow exiting with result: 0x0   
02/12/2016 15:00:31.828    SETUP (0x1cc8)    0xc40        Click-To-Run Telemetry    aoh9z    Medium    AdminBootstrapper::Main: Installation came back with 17003.   
02/12/2016 15:00:31.829    SETUP (0x1cc8)    0xc40        Logging Liblet    aqc99    Medium    Logging liblet uninitializing.   

This wasn’t completely unexpected as I have used this computer previously to create my Office 2013 App-V packages. But I had never encountered it so I was not sure where to look to clean up the previous install. Enter Process Monitor. I fired it up, reproduced the issue, stopped the trace. Although the trace was only a few seconds, this will likely result in thousands or ten of thousands of operations being captured. This “noise” can quickly be cleaned up, though, using filters. I figured the likely culprit would be in the registry, so I started with limiting results to RegQueryKey. From there, I filtered for the only processes involved. With ODT, this is setup.exe which then calls OfficeClickToRun.exe.


From here, I could see HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\15.0 was being touched. Note, that whatever version of Office you are packaging should not be installed on the machine where you are doing the packaging so any key created here would have been done by the ODT setup.


Simply delete this key and run setup /packager again.

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The Case of the Slowly Opening Or Unresponsive Office Files

Posted by William Diaz on August 15, 2012

After a recent security update for our XP workstations, a couple complaints came in where user’s were having difficulty opening Microsoft Office files across the network. In some cases, the file would open, but only after a delay of a few minutes. In other cases, the file would not open at all, causing the Office application (Word, Excel) to become unresponsive and hung up. The files were not ridiculously large, and opening the same files locally did not present a problem. Identifying the cause was a simple matter of turning to Process Explorer and examining the stack of the working program thread:


You can see the stack growing with a couple dozen calls to some component named GKExcel.dll. Turning on the Lower Pane to view DLLs (View > Lower Pane View > DLLs), I can see it is described as Microsoft Component, but the description is too generic to make out the purpose:


However, one of the functions may allude to what its purpose is and how it got here. Searching FValidateExcelFile takes me to this MS KB article Excel workbooks may open slowly over the network:

After you install MS11-021 and the Office File Validation (OFV) Add-in for Microsoft Office 2003 (KB 2501584), workbooks stored in a network location open more slowly over the network in Excel 2003 than they did without the OFV installed. The decrease in performance depends on the size of the workbook and bandwidth of the network, and in some scenarios, can seem to cause Excel to crash.

The issue is not specific to Excel, however. Word files were taking several minutes to open as well. Resolving is a simple matter of uninstalling the Microsoft Office File Validation Add-in or modifying the registry to make an exception for the application opening the file. To do this:

  • Go to HKCU\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Office\<ver>\<application>\Security.
  • Create a new key called FileValidation
  • Create a DWORD value called EnableOnLoad with a value of 0

If uninstalling across the enterprise, then: msiexec / x {90140000-2005-0000-0000-0000000FF1CE} / quiet.

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Sometimes Its Better To Modify Than To Delete

Posted by William Diaz on July 8, 2012

We disable Outlook PSTs within our organization via group policy. This setting resides in the registry at HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Office\14\Outlook and is enforced with a DWORD value equal to 1. In some cases, though, we allow certain uses to continue to use PSTs. Those who do use PSTs, however, don’t necessarily have the ability to move items into these PSTs. That, too, is also disabled by creating a DWORD called PstDisableGrow in HKCU\Software\Policies\Microsoft\office\14.0\outlook\PST. If the value is to enable this, then you will encounter the following warning or error message when trying to copy or move item(s) into the PST: “Cannot copy the items. You don’t have appropriate permission to perform this operation


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Investigating & Resolving Message Delays in Outlook with WinDbg

Posted by William Diaz on May 1, 2012

The problem starts after the user has had their Windows profile recreated but continues to experience some Outlook performance issues. Each time she clicks the New button in Outlook to create a new message, there is a 5 to 10 second delay before the blank message opens. There is also a 10+ second delay after she clicks send and Outlook becomes unresponsive for that time. I connect to her and quickly look at the Office Outlook registry for any unapproved 3rd party add-ins and see nothing out of the ordinary. I decide to dump the Outlook process when the hang is encounter and turn to Process Explorer. This is a simple matter of right-clicking the process and choosing Create Dump when it is in an unresponsive state. Actually, I collect two dumps, the other with Procdump in hang mode. I do this to ensure that the dumps are consistent; if the dumps are not similar then I may need to collect more until a pattern emerges.

I copied the dumps to my workstation and opened them with WinDbg and run the !analyze –v –hang command. The stack for both dumps are similar. With the exception of the NRTExchn component (our DMS add-in for Outlook), these are all MS modules. Normally, this wouldn’t excite me but something stands out like a sore thumb as I move up the stack, the presence of msi.dll in the stack of the current examine thread.

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Unraveling and Resolving An Outlook Crash with Process Monitor

Posted by William Diaz on March 2, 2012

While trying to import documents into our document management system via Outlook, Outlook would just abruptly close on the user. I started the initial troubleshooting by disabling a couple 3rd party add-ins in HKLM and HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Office\Outlook\Addins that were not part of the normal image. This can be done by modifying the load behavior of the add-in (see this MSDN article for details), but this had no effect on correcting the behavior. I thought about capturing a crash dump of Outlook but decided to not waste any time there because, at this point, with the add-ins disabled, I likely was not going to see anything but the document management modules in the dump.

Instead, I turned to Process Monitor; perhaps it might reveal what Outlook was doing just before it crashed and give me some important clues. I set a filter to monitor only outlook.exe, dragged an item into the document management space in Outlook and waited for it to crash after clicking Save. Afterwards, I scrolled to end of the log, working my way up. I also added a filter to only include registry activity and then process and thread activity so I could quickly see where Outlook was crashing: Read the rest of this entry »

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The Case of the Missing Visio Menu Bar

Posted by William Diaz on March 1, 2012

When opening Visio, the user didn’t see the common Menu Bar one normally see in Microsoft Office products before 2007. The menu bar contains the literal menu options like File, Edit, View, Insert, so on. There was also the presence of a 3rd party toolbar that didn’t look like it was properly functioning:
Perhaps the Menu bar was disabled. This can be checked by right-clicking in the menu bar area and selecting Customize, then Toolbars.
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Some (More) PDF Internals

Posted by William Diaz on December 7, 2011

I already discussed a different form of this error (One or more documents could not be opened) when trying to open PDFs from our document management system in Outlook in an earlier blog here.
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Change Outlook Contacts “File As” En Masse

Posted by William Diaz on December 6, 2011

In Outlook, there is no native built-in method for changing the “File As” type for all contacts at once. Normally, if you need to do this, you open the contact and change to the File As field for each contact.
Think of someone with several hundred or several thousand contacts who, all of a sudden, realizes that he rather look up his contacts by FirstName instead of LastName (or vice versa). Or take someone who has been filing as one type for a while now and then decided to start filing as a different type later and is then presented with a scenario like that below where sorting by the File As column mixes last and first name alphabetically:
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The Case of the Missing SharePoint “Connect to Outlook” Action

Posted by William Diaz on December 1, 2011

This one originally came to me as a complaint from a single user about his inability to connect one of his SharePoint calendars to Outlook 2003. In most SharePoint lists, there is an Actions menu that should contain this option:
Often, this problem is resolved by installing the SharePoint Services Support for Office and/or simply repairing Office. You can also find a good guide to troubleshooting this issue here. But none of these options were resolving the issue. Additionally, as I began to investigate to see if the problem could be recreated on various tech workstations, I realized that the impact was not isolated to a single workstation, but almost all workstations in our helpdesk. Of the systems that were not affected, one of them resided on my desk, a lab PC that had since departed from the standard Windows XP Pro image we deploy firm-wide. Read the rest of this entry »

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