IE7 crashes when open Office document in SharePoint

May 6, 2008

I’ve been using a client’s SharePoint 2003 for some months now, and have been swearing at its clunky workflow. My default browser is Firefox—as a result I can’t get all the extras for managing documents directly in SharePoint through it. So I’ve learned to open the client’s SharePoint portal in IE7. However, every time I tried to open an Office 2003 document within SharePoint (let alone edit one), IE7 crashed on me. Well, finally I had enough! I had two choices: continue feeding my SharePoint frustrations (and making the air blue as a result), or find the solution. Off to trusty Google and within minutes I had my answer.

It seems Office 2007 and Office 2003 and SharePoint don’t play well together. But, pondered I, I don’t have Office 2007 installed and have never installed it on this machine, though I have installed the font compatibility pack. Perhaps that was it? Nope. In my case, it was the installation of Microsoft Expression some time back that added some Office 12 components to my system—particularly this file: OWSSUPP.DLL. It seems if you have more than one of these beasties on your machine, IE7 can get tied up in knots and crash when you try to open an Office document in IE7. Who’d have thought? (DLL hell revisited, anyone?)

So on the advice of several websites, here’s what I did to fix the problem:

  1. Searched for all instances of OWSSUPP.DLL on my system. I found two—one under the Office 11 installation (expected), and one under C:\Program Files\Microsoft Expression\Office12.
  2. Went to C:\Program Files\Microsoft Expression\Office12 and renamed the DLL to original_OWSSUPP.DLL.
  3. Ran the Office diagnostics on my system to replace any old or missing OWSSUPP.DLL files with a new one from Microsoft (Start > Programs > Microsoft Office > Microsoft Office Tools > Microsoft Office Diagnostics). This process took a few minutes.

That was it! As soon as I’d done that, I checked the OWSSUPP.DLL file in the Office12 folder and it had updated with a recent one. I opened SharePoint and voila! I could open and edit Office documents within the SharePoint workspace. And I could stop swearing at SharePoint and IE7, at least for now.

Thanks to these websites for pointing me in the right direction:

Update 9 July 2008: IE7 doesn’t even report a crash now when I try to open a Word document via SharePoint—it just disappears entirely! I wonder if it’s to do with getting SP3 installed on my Windows XP machine last week? Following my own advice, I checked what I did last time (see above), searched for OWSSUPP.DLL and lo and behold I found TWO instances of it in C:\Program Files\Microsoft Expression\Office12 and one in my Office 11 folder. One in the Expression folder was the renamed file from last time, and the other was a clean instance. Now how did that get there?

I ran the Microsoft Office Diagnostics again. One issue was reported as found and fixed though there were no details as to what the issue was and what they did to fix it. So I’ll try again… But before doing so I’ll check that Expression folder again—yep, it’s back! This time I just deleted it from the Expression folder without running the diagnostics.

Then I opened SharePoint and tried to open a Word document—and it worked.

Now, to try and solve the problem once and for all… It seems there’s a fix for this problem which updates the OWSSUPP.DLL file in the Office 12 location to the latest version. You can read the details on the Microsoft Support website, and download/install the hot fix from there too; it appears to work:

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