Windows Update Crashes Office Applications

On the morning of Thursday November 12th, 2015 we saw reports of Microsoft Outlook crashing, computers with touch screens refusing to display the welcome screen, and other Microsoft Office apps (including Excel and Publisher) crashing when viewing certain documents. We scrambled to find the source of these problems.

After researching on the web and finding other users with similar complaints, we nailed these problems down to update KB3097877. On Wednesday November 11th, 2015 Microsoft released Windows Update KB3097877 to address a vulnerability in the way Microsoft Office handles OpenType fonts. This update was causing widespread issues including those we had seen.

At the time, the only fix was to uninstall the update. This is difficult if the PC won’t display the welcome screen. One workaround is to login via RDP and uninstall the update remotely and reboot. But what if you don’t have RDP enabled on an affected computer? Disabling the touchscreen on your device via the BIOS is another workaround. Alternatively, you can edit the registry to allow auto-login without a password from a Windows installation disk using the repair console.

Because we use ScreenConnect for the vast majority of our clients, we didn’t have any issues logging in remotely to remove the update.

Luckily, within 30 hours of releasing this update, Microsoft rereleased the update with a fix that solves all of the problems reported by users. If you are still experiencing Microsoft Office crashes, please check Windows Update and make sure you have all updates installed.

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