Hotfixes Issued for Office 2003 Bug

Users experienced problems with files protected by Active Directory rights management software.

Microsoft has issued hotfixes to address problems some users were having with Microsoft Office 2003 files.

The files were protected by a security option called the Active Directory rights management service, or RMS. Organizations typically use RMS to restrict access to documents created with Office. However, some users found last week that these RMS-protected files could not be opened or saved.

Instead, they received a message reading, "Unexpected error occurred. Please try again later or contact your system administrator," according to a Microsoft blog posted on Friday. On Saturday, Microsoft issued three hotfixes to address the problem.

An account by Technologizer initially spotted the glitch announcement and quoted a Microsoft spokesperson as saying that the problem stemmed from the expiration of an "Information Rights Management (IRM) certificate."

The RMS problem was associated only with Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, and Word in Office 2003, according to the Microsoft KnowledgeBase articles. Office 2007 applications were not affected.  The hotfixes -- Office Client (KB978551), Word Viewer (KB978558) and Excel Viewer (KB978557) -- are available from Microsoft Support without charge. However, IT pros will have to call Microsoft Support and reference those three KnowledgeBase articles to get the hotfixes, according to a Microsoft blog. The blog noted that Office 2003 has to be updated with Service Pack 3 before installing these hotfixes.

In addition to controlling who can open or modify the files, Microsoft's RMS technology can be used to restrict actions on files, such as forwarding and printing. Document security can be customized by modifying a rights expression language based on XML. Developers can use a Microsoft-provided software development kit to make the changes, according to the kit's documentation.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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