I finally upgraded from Microsoft Office 2010 to Office 2013 — it would have been nice if it had worked. I stayed with 2010 for best compatibility with my office. However, after my wife started using Office 2013 at her job, I needed to be able to answer her questions.
Things got interesting…
I bought Microsoft Office Home and Business 2013, which comes either as a product key delivered electronically or as a small box containing a card with the product key. You do not receive a DVD of Office. In order to install Office 2013, you go to the Microsoft Office site with your web browser, enter your product key, and start the installation.
Although I would have preferred to download the package and then install from my computer, the installation was easy without any problems.
Using the program was a different matter…
I tried to open an Excel file by double-clicking on it. Excel opened and I got an EMET error message in the lower right-hand corner of my screen that talked about an incompatible COM driver.
EMET is Microsoft’s "Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit," which is a fancy way of saying it’s powerful security software.
In Microsoft’s words: "The Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET) is a utility that helps prevent vulnerabilities in software from being successfully exploited. EMET achieves this goal by using security mitigation technologies. These technologies function as special protections and obstacles that an exploit author must defeat to exploit software vulnerabilities. These security mitigation technologies do not guarantee that vulnerabilities cannot be exploited. However, they work to make exploitation as difficult as possible to perform."
So, I looked at its options, identified one that was specific to Office, and disabled that check. Unfortunately, this wasn’t much help.
Excel 2013 and Word 2013 would open, but would simply crash and close — with no error message! — when I would try to open an existing file, create a new file from a template, or create a new blank file.
I uninstalled EMET 5.1, but that didn’t solve the problem.
So far, I was underwhelmed by my new Microsoft Office 2013 purchase.
So, I searched Google for:
word 2013 crashes when opening files
(without any quotes).
One of the results pointed to a Microsoft Answers forum posting at http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/office/forum/office_2013_release-word/word-2013-crashing-when-loadingcreating-docx-file/271a2279-7419-4d3f-8e21-e2e4617560d5
This gave me the trick I needed to ultimately figure out the problem, as well as pointing to the general vicinity of the issue.
The problem was, apparently, that a conversion driver for PDF to word, wasn’t compatible with Office 2013.
The posting indicated that File > Options was the place where I would fix the issue, so I started Word 2013 and then picked File > Options. Word immediately crashed and closed. I tried again — same result. Excel 2013 did the same thing.
So, I started Word in Safe mode (run > winword /safe ),
then picked File > Options. Now, I could see that there were a couple of "COM drivers" that were for programs that converted PDF files to Word files.
I selected Manage COM Add-ins and hit the Go button. Then, I unchecked the two COM add-ins to deactivate them.
On restarting Word, I could now create new files or open existing files.
Fixing Excel was a similar process.
Shortly after that, my wife needed to work on an Excel spreadsheet on her computer (which has been running Office 2013 for months).
Sometimes, when she double-clicked on the Excel file, it wouldn’t open. Windows would just start to open Excel and then close. Other times, Excel would open, but would crash when she tried to open the file.
I checked for COM drivers, but there weren’t any. But, Microsoft EMET 5.1 was there.
I uninstalled EMET from her computer. Problem solved.
Apparently a recent Windows Update updated EMET to a version that "wasn’t ready for prime time." It’s bad enough when a Windows update breaks a third party program. It’s unacceptable when it breaks Microsoft’s own premier office suite.