Thanks to Matthew McCullough for tipping me off to the release of a hot-fix for Windows 2000 that allows Office 2000 Service Release 1 (SR-1) to run more smoothly on that operating system. Microsoft's service releases for Office have always been notoriously buggy for a variety of reasons, and Office 2000 SR-1 was subsequently issued with a number of known issues. According to testers I've talked to, the Office team released only sporadic external builds and changed SR-1 in major ways after the last external build was provided. As such, SR-1 wasn't tested comprehensively outside of Microsoft, so it should come as no surprise that this update is just as buggy as its predecessors.
Indeed, within hours of the public release of Office 2000 SR-1, the company began receiving complaints from a sporadic selection of Windows 2000 users whose installs were literally broken by the installation of SR-1. Symptoms include an inability to find new mail messages in Outlook 2000 or Outlook Express, search abilities made inoperable, and the inability to hotlink to documents or Web addresses from within Office documents. Microsoft's initial reaction was to ignore the problem, which seemed to affect only a small percentage of its customers and require a Byzantine series of steps to reproduce. And in another bizarre SR-1 issue that only affects Windows 2000 users, the SR-1 installation routine would ask for the "SR-1 CD-ROM" even though the install was Web-based.
Both of these issues are apparently fixed with a Windows 2000 hot-fix that was added to Windows Update yesterday. The deceptively simple update actually reregisters a single DLL file on the system, bringing it up to speed with the other Windows 2000 system components and you can duplicate its functionality by running "regsvr32.exe oleaut32.dll" (no quotes) from a command line. The problem, Microsoft says, can also affect Windows 9x/NT 4.0 users that do not have the latest Windows Installer, which needs to be updated to version 1.1 before SR-1 will install or work correctly. Oddly, this version is included with Windows 2000.
So if you're running Windows 2000 and you've installed, or are considering installing, Office 2000 SR-1, head on over to the Windows Update Web site and get the "Recommended Update for Office 2000 SR-1" in Product Updates