Upgrade Your System to Solve Software Compatibility Problems
BackBy Andrew Bonslater — October 2008
Q: I successfully installed the Microsoft Office Small Business 2007 upgrade on top of Windows 2000 with no problems. Beginning about a week later, every time I open Outlook, it stalls for 30 seconds and then an error message pops up: “Microsoft Office Outlook has stopped working. Windows is collecting more information about this problem.” Once I get rid of that message, another error message pops up: “A problem caused the program to stop working correctly. Windows will close the program and notify you if a solution is available.” Then Outlook closes. Any idea what’s causing this? More importantly, have all my valuable contacts been erased?
A: This sounds like a compatibility problem with Microsoft Office and your Windows 2000 computer. The first step to solving the problem would be to check the product requirements from the Microsoft Office Web site. The requirements are pretty standard, but the first thing that stands out to me is the minimum operating system requirement is for Microsoft Windows XP with Service Pack 2 (SP2), Windows Server 2003 with SP1 or later. You said you tried installing this on top of a Windows 2000 machine, which does not seem adequate for the Small Business 2007 system requirements.
Before making any drastic changes to your computer, however, my first recommendation would be to back up your Outlook data file. The Outlook data file, named Outlook.pst by default, stores your e-mail messages, calendar, contacts and other items delivered from your mail server. Having a backup of this file will help protect your valuable Outlook data.
If you have a portable storage device such as a memory stick, copy a version of your Outlook data file to the storage device. The Outlook data file can typically be found in the :\Documents and Settings\\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook folder. The location of the data file could be hidden, so you must turn on the display of hidden folders in the Windows Explorer Tool menu, under the Folder Options.
You may also have to switch on the display of file extensions to view the entire name of the data file. You can do this by going to Advanced Settings, Files and Folders, and uncheck the checkbox for “Hide extensions for known file types.” Once you complete these steps, you should be able to locate the Outlook.pst data file; then copy it to the portable storage device.
Next, try upgrading your operating system to a version of Windows that meets the system requirements for Small Business 2007 while also applying all critical updates from the Windows update Web site. To check to see if you have the latest Windows updates, visit windowsupdate.microsoft.com.
Then try reinstalling Small Business 2007 once you have the appropriate operating system and your computer meets all the other minimum requirements. If you have completed all of these recommendations and you are still unable to get Outlook to open, search the Microsoft knowledge base for possible patches to fix incompatibility issues between Microsoft Office and other software or drivers installed on your computer. Visit the Microsoft knowledge base at support.microsoft.com. Perform a search for the keywords that you are getting in the error message from Outlook. The Microsoft Knowledge base is a great tool for troubleshooting problems with Microsoft products.
From the way things sound, you should not have lost your Outlook contacts or mail, but you just need the appropriate software updates to get Outlook to work correctly. The backup of the Outlook data file to the portable storage device will allow you to revert back to the original data file if you have any problems upgrading your software.
Andrew Bonslater, MCTS, MCSD, MCAD, is a solutions developer for mid- to large-sized organizations. He is a thought leader with Crowe Chizek in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.