Not once, but twice.

Microsoft, shame on you.

Powerpoint 2003 users, there is hope.  This one’s not your fault.  And Microsoft did do the right thing, sort of, after exhausting all other possibilities.

Oh, Microsoft had the best of intentions.  They usually do – at least towards themselves.  But when they issued a security update to PowerPoint and broke backward compatibility, that was wrong.  And when they decided not to fix it immediately, that was doubly wrong.  But there is hope – you can fight the forces of evil and un-do Microsoft’s mistake, on your own or with their help.

It started out innocently enough.  Microsoft had been informed of three vulnerabilities that a bad guy could gain control of your computer, all through Powerpoint.  And they fixed them.  Good for Microsoft!

But their fix broke Powerpoint.  That’s unacceptable behavior #1.  They apparently didn’t test enough to see if the fix would work in all scenarios.  This is hard – I have been working in software testing, and there is always a balance to be achieved between the amount of testing to be done and the time available to do it.  But when a fix breaks the software it’s supposed to fix, that’s not good.

Broken how?  When opening a slide show, there is an error message stating that certain elements could not be imported.  And they’re right.  Here’s a slide sorter view of one of our songs for Easter:

On the creating machine, all backgrounds are identical.  On a machine running PPT 2003, this is what we see.  Somehow it’s just not quite right.  It’s a Jeopardy board part-way through.  It’s a Bingo card in the middle of a game.  It’s some variation on Tic-Tac-Toe.   What it isn’t is a working Powerpoint.

Unacceptable behavior #2, although this could be argued, is that they didn’t immediately pull the busted patch.  They started working on a patch to the fix.  Other people decided they would rather face the possibility of infection and pulled the patch off their machines.  Here’s how that works: Go to Windows Update and select the check-box that says “Show updates”.  This will include all of Microsoft’s hotfixes and updates, along with the software you normally see in “Add/Remove”.  That check-box is highlighted below, but won’t be highlighted on your computer.

The arrow points to the offending fix – KB2464588.  Click on it and then hit the big Remove button, and you’re back in business.  Not protected from the vulnerabilities, but with a working Powerpoint.

But Microsoft kept on slogging, and eventually came up with a fix for the problem they created.  And then an update for that fix, and an update for the update.  At least as of this writing, they are at version 3 of the fix.  You have to request the hotfix, though – they are not pushing it out.  You have to agree to their license agreement,  supply your email address, and go through a Captcha process.  That’s when you get the last piece of bad news:

Hotfix Request

The system is currently unavailable. Please try back later, or contact support if you want immediate assistance.
Boo, hiss, Microsoft.  Boo, hiss.  That update is getting yanked manually.  And to keep it from coming back, I’m telling Windows Update that I do not want this fix:
And that’s my final answer.