Word 2007 crashing on Windows 7 or won’t open documents

For the last few days my Word 2007 installation on my Windows 7 box has been playing up.

In particular it will not let me use the mouse to edit documents, as in clicking within the Word application does nothing.

If I open a document through Windows explorer or any means other than from the open dialog within the program they will not open.

And when I close Word is crashes and restarts.

The good news is out of frustration this morning I found the solution to the problem.

And it is all the fault of Microsoft and Automatic Updates.

This Microsoft KB article will explain how to fix the problem.

This is the outline of the problem as given by Microsoft

You install an automatic update for Microsoft Office Word 2007 on a Windows Vista-based computer and then restart the computer. If Word 2007 was running when the computer was restarted, you experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • The mouse does not work when you use Word.
  • You cannot open a Word document from the Search window in Windows Vista.
  • You cannot open a Word document from Windows Desktop Search.
  • Word crashes when you try to start or exit Word.
  • Word crashes when you open the Open dialog box.
  • Word crashes when you save a document.
  • Word crashes when you close a document.

The first thing to note is that this problem applies to Windows 7 now as well as Vista. However, the automatic fix it script that you can download to fix the problem will not work on Windows 7 so you have to fix the problem manually (I will get to this soon).

The second thing to note is that the problem was caused by restarting Windows to install updates while Word was still running. There are only two ways this could happen. a) you didn’t close all the programs running on the system before you restarted. or b) Windows Update automatically restarted the system while these applications were running. What happened to me is b) and that is what really annoys me. Sure you can disable automatic installation of Windows Update files. However, I have the feature turned on for the sake of simplicity. If there are critical updates I want them installed. What I do not apprieciate is Windows corrupting itself in the process of installing updates. Furthermore I do not expect a problem with an Automatic Update to still be a problem more than two years after the problem was discovered (this blog on this exact problem is posted September 2007: http://www.edbott.com/weblog/?p=1771)

The fix is simple, but it does involve editing the registery. Something that you are never advised to do unless you have a serious problem with your computer. Hence my anger at Microsoft for stuffing up their own program through an update.

To resolve this problem, delete the HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\12.0\Word\Data registry subkey. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Exit all Office programs.
  2. Click Start type regedit in the Start Search box, and then press ENTER. If you are prompted for an administrator password or for a confirmation, type the password, or click Continue.
  3. Locate and then click the following registry subkey:
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\12.0\Word\Data
  4. On the Edit menu, click Delete, and then click Yes.
  5. Exit Registry Editor.
  6. Restart Word.