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High-Tech Times Article 023

Office 2000

Last month, I discussed whether you are ready for Windows 2000. This month, I’m going to bring you my personal experiences on installing and using Office 2000.  The nicest thing I can say about these experiences is, “If the upgrade to Windows 2000 is as ‘easy’ to do as Office 2000, then we’re in a lot of trouble!”

Let me start with my first installation of the shipping version of Office 2000 Standard in a client’s office in early July. The install was done on a Compaq server running Windows NT 4.0 Server and Service Pack 5. Although the server was a somewhat underpowered Pentium 60 with 32 MB RAM and a 2 GB hard-drive, it did meet Microsoft’s standards for upgrading the client’s Office 97, and with only three computers connected to the server, I didn’t expect a network overload.

The installation started out with a series of questions on what I wanted to install, and I took all the defaults except that I specified that the old programs should be retained. The installation went painfully slowly, taking 52 minutes to complete. What worried me is that I received four separate error messages during the install, including one DLL, one INF, and two OCX errors. As there didn’t appear to be any reason for the errors, I chose to manually copy the DLL and OCX files into the SYSTEM32 subdirectory.

As the procedure then called for a system reboot, I carefully read the install screens which appeared after login, and found an error message for each of the manually-copied files. At that point, I picked up the phone and called Microsoft Technical Support. As any of you who have had to call Microsoft know, the wait is interminable, and a technician answered after “only” 22 minutes. I explained all the errors, confirmed that I had previously disabled all the virus checkers, and waited to be enlightened.

After an embarrassing 30-45 seconds, the technician mumbled that he couldn’t find any of those error messages at all. This left me without a warm, fuzzy feeling, and I asked what he suggested. A minute later, I was speaking with a second-level technician who quickly accessed TechNet, only to find that, indeed, the error messages weren’t listed at all. Being a bit more persistent this time, I asked him to do a bit of research while I waited on hold. Eight minutes later, even the second-level tech was mumbling, this time that the error messages were related to a Microsoft Publish error. Unfortunately, my client had never installed Publish....

After a hastily-gathered meeting of the minds at his office, the tech told me to reinstall the entire program, gave me a case number, and told me to call back if the errors reoccurred. To make a frustrating experience a bit shorter, to my vast relief the errors did not recur, and the server quickly popped up Word 2000, Excel 2000, and PowerPoint 2000. However, although I had carefully specified in the original install that Office 2000 was to be run from the server, each of the workstations required installation of the entire Windows installer.

But although my first installation did not leave me with a very good taste of things to come, my real nightmare started when I finally received my dealer copy of Office 2000 Premium.

Now my in-house network at CATI is a bit more sophisticated than my client’s, with a dual Pentium Pro 200 server, 256 MB RAM, and nearly 30 GB of mass-storage. We also run NT 4.0 Server with Service Pack 5, along with quite a few other Microsoft network and database products, and seldom have any downtime at all. So I expected few installation problems this time. Boy, was I wrong!!

First, the installation procedure was a bit more convoluted, and I spent around 30 minutes customizing my install. The first part of the installation went smoothly, and the second configuration portion began. However, at that point, the installation process-bar (the GUI that shows something is still happening) turned from its usual blue to a dull grey color. Nothing I could do would return it to its active state, so I brought up Norton CrashGuard and told it to Anti-Freeze the process. The process promptly disappeared completely. And nothing I could do would even persuade the CD-ROM to start up again.

Fearing for the welfare of our busy server, I decided to try the install again on a standalone Pentium 200 that I keep for exactly this type of problem. It has 128 MB RAM, 12 GB hard-drive, and runs a very basic version of Windows 95. As before, the installation proceeded nicely until the second configuration portion began, and the exact same grey-out of the process-bar occurred. After rebooting, I was able to get the install going again, and even my customization settings were still there. But I could never get past that same point.

By this time, it was 7 PM on a Friday evening, well past the time when Microsoft was available by telephone, at least without an expensive service contract. So I browsed over to the well-documented Web site for troubleshooting. Well-documented it was, well set up it was not.  Office 2000 didn’t appear anywhere on that part of the site. If my problem had been with Word 1.0, I probably could have gotten an answer, but not Microsoft’s Office 2000.

I was fairly frustrated at this point, and accessed Microsoft’s private dealer Web site. Same problem; nothing was listed at all that referred to Office 2000. I ran a number of searches, and finally (40 minutes later) located an Office 2000 page that allowed me to place a trouble call with a technician. Uh-huh, sure. The first thing this page demanded was the Product Code. Unfortunately, you do not get a Product Code until the product has been installed.... And of course the page wouldn’t let me one bit past that point. So with complete disgust, I shut everything down, and headed out for a well-earned beer.

Bright and early Monday morning, I was on the phone with yet another Microsoft level-two technician. This one was smart enough to know he couldn’t handle my problem, and immediately connected me with a level-three specialist. The good news is that this technician was able to help me resolve the installation problem; the bad news is that he didn’t know why it happened. But I’ll share with you how he got my system up and running.

First, browse over to  and download the Resource Kit Toolbox. These tools give you a LOT more information than Microsoft included in the “Discovering Microsoft Office 2000" user guide, which is essentially zero.

Second, shut down everything running in the background. The easiest way to do that is to press Ctrl-Alt-Del and choose End Task for all items in the list except for Explorer and Systray, one at a time. This will disable your virus protection, so be careful with any other tasks until you have rebooted. You may have to do this several times when Office 2000 reboots your machine.

 Third, determine whether you are going to install Office 2000 on a standalone machine, a server, or a client machine connected to a server. If your computer is standalone, and will never be connected to a server, then install Office 2000 using the standard setup routine. If you’re installing on a server, then you MUST install using the following: d:\setup /a where d: is your CD-ROM. If on a client machine, then use: d:\setup /jm . If you don’t use these switches, you will NOT be able to run any of the Office 2000 programs as a client from the server without a complete reinstall!

Last, if your initial install fails for any reason, here are the actions that Microsoft will have you do:

(1) Reboot, and shut off all background programs

(2) Insert CD #1 and hold down the Shift key so that Office 2000 does not auto-start

(3) Using Explore, locate SETUP.EXE in the d:\IE5 subdirectory, and double-click to install IE5; if you’re a Netscape user, as I am, just choose the Minimum install (not that it listens)

(4) Reboot again (you may not have a choice), and again shut down all background programs

(5) Go through the installation procedure again

(6) If you get still another install failure, then things get really nasty!

(7) Start by rebooting into MS-DOS mode - NOT a DOS window

(8) Change directory to c:\windows\system

(9) Rename three DLL files (ODBCCP32.DLL, ODBCJT32.DLL, ODBCINT.DLL) by changing their suffixes to .OLD (i.e., ren odbccp32.dll odbccp32.old)

(10) Then delete the following files: MSIEXEC.EXE, MSIHNA.DLL, MSI.DLL, CABINET.DLL, MSPATCHA.DLL, SHFOLDER.DLL, IMAGEHLP.DLL, RICHED20.DLL, MSLS31.DLL, and USP10.DLL, and empty the Recycle Bin

(11) Reboot, and browse over to; scroll down to where you see Microsoft Data Access Components 2.1 (you’ll see more details after that number)

(12) Follow the instructions to download the new MDAC drivers, and download and install them (that second install failure indicates that your ODBC drivers won’t work with Office 2000)

(13) Reboot, and repeat steps 1,4, and 5


With any luck, your Office 2000 install will now go as “smoothly” as you should expect it to. You can then delete the three files that you renamed. Just remember that if you have a Office 2000 multi-CD set, you MUST shut down all background programs -- or you may be doing this whole thing all over again!!

For Netscape users, don’t be surprised when you double-click on your Netscape icon and Internet Explorer 5 pops up instead. Don’t get mad, just use Add/Remove Programs in your Control Panel to completely remove IE5 (which will cause another reboot, by the way). I also removed Outlook 2000 - which I had carefully NOT installed when I installed IE5 - so that my Eudora Pro would work again.

I have installed tens of thousands of programs in my 30+ years in the computer field, and I definitely feel that Microsoft has done everyone a huge disservice by making Office 2000 such a major pain to install. I personally have several Microsoft certifications, and if I find a basic installation to be difficult, then it’s likely that many of you will also find it so. Maybe a few of us should send some e-mails to Microsoft to see if they have a response; the level-three specialist I spoke with said that he wished that he “had written the manual so that it would be more useful.” Let me know if you have any success if you do contact Microsoft, but don’t hold your breath waiting, either.

See you next month.