Thursday, November 20, 2008

Outlook manifest add-in bug and Windows Live Search - an Office Communicator uninstall bug

[see updates -- looks like Office Communicator is the culprit]

Lately, my XP experience goes like this:
Born down in a dead man's town
The first kick I took was when I hit the ground
You end up like a dog that's been beat too much
Till you spend half your life just covering up...
For today's installment I have a bug reported by precisely one web site ...
Word 2007 Bible Blog: Form region manifest specifies an add-in that is not installed

... Form region manifest specifies an add-in that is not installed: "For the past few months, I’ve had a perplexing mystery in Outlook 2007. During an Outlook session, the first time I clicked the Actions menu item, I got four Microsoft Office Outlook OK boxes in succession. The first said:

The form region IPM.Note.Microsoft.Conversation.Region cannot be opened. The form region manifest specifies an add-in that is not installed.

Then I got three more, identical except for the region specified:
There are some usenet hits, but nothing terribly specific. This one is closest "Form region cannot be opened".

The Word 2007 blog article says the problem is errant registry keys, and removing the references solves the problem. Sounds good to me, the Outlook add-in infrastructure is a gaping wound.

So I may yet hack the registry, but since the errors only occur once on startup, and since everything seems to work ok otherwise, I'm going to see what else I can learn. I tried using the outlook /cleanprofile switch but it didn't work.

That's where, for the very first time, Windows Live and Yahoo! Search have an advantage over Google search.

Both Live and Yahoo support search feeds. So, for example, this Live search has a feed ...
Outlook manifest add-in not-installed "IPM Note Microsoft Conversation Region " - Live Search
I've added feeds for this search to Google Reader for both Yahoo and Live. I'll see what comes up. Maybe I'll just have to wait for Office 2007 SP2.

PS. My prime suspect is Office Communicator 2005. I think it's evil and I'd uninstalled a few days ago. However, reinstalling it didn't fix the problem.

Update: New hunch. Maybe it's a botched installation of Windows Live Messenger that may have occurred when my attempt to reinstall Microsoft LifeCam was aborted by .NET stack corruption. I'll try an install/uninstall of Messenger.

Update 11/20/08: This is promising. I try installing Windows Live Messenger via the LifeCam install and I get this "Windows Live Installer" error: "There was a problem with this installation ... Catastrophic failure". Hey, so now I know where to focus my dark suspicions. I'll try installing from Windows Live and see what happens next.

Update 11/24/08: I resolved the Windows Live Catastrophic Failure bug, but installing Live Messenger didn't fix the dangling registry references that cause the Outlook 2007 FormRegions (Manifest) bug. I uninstalled Messenger and Communicator (terrible software both) and then, as advised by Word 2007 Bible Blog I deleted the Outlook FormRegions references from my registry. I made sure to exit Outlook first and checked that I didn't have a persistent Outlook process running (known Outlook 2007 problem related to Microsoft's insane Add-in infrastructure.

My money for the source of this bug is Office Communicator. I say this becauseOffice/Outlook/Addins in my registry contains OcOffice.OcForms which has the description "Outlook 12 add-in to support Communicator custom forms" and a FriendlyName of "Microsoft Office Communicator 2007 Add-in" (note our corp is on Communicator 2005!). The dangling FormRegions were pointing to something called an "OcForm".

I'd also put a little money down on Newsgator, which I'd tested with Outlook 2003 as a news reader before giving up on it -- just because the only web hit on "OcOffice.OcForms" appears as an incidental entry in a Newsgator forum posting.

Update 1/3/09: It took a while, but my search feeds turned up a report that implications Office Communicator. Looks like both Office Communicator 2005 and 2007 share the same incomplete uninstall bug.


Darrin Dyson said...

I had the same problem. Under HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\Outlook\FormRegions I found the keys corresponding to the error and deleted them. No more errors. I don't care what caused it, I was just sick of having to click through the dialogs :-)

Roger Acuna said...

Excellent solution!

I had the same problem and fixed it by deleting those keys.

Anonymous said...

At long last!!!, I finally found your posted solution and tried it for myself. Viola!!!

You are the man Darrin Dyson!!!

Thank you so much for that post!!

Microsoft, you can learn something from this guy! Wake up and listen.!

Hernan Curras said...

I was having the same problem, I wasn't able to see the Conversation History of Microsoft Communicator 2007 R2; on Outlook 2010.

I decided to install Lync 2010; assuming a compatibility issue. It didn't work.

I followed the current procedure, making a backup first on a .reg file, and erasing:


Magically I didn't receive the error.

Thanks Gordon,

kishore said...

Thanks,this helped me a lot

kishore said...

Thanks !,this solution help me fix the issue

Gary Trinder said...

Thanks, fixed it for me as well. That will teach me to uninstall SharePoint Designer, which I think screwed up all my Office applications. Office Fix sorted the others out.

Gary Trinder said...

I uninstalled SharePoint Designer and it screwed all my Office Applications up. Office Fix sorted the others out and this fix sorted out Outlook. Thanks very much for sharing it.

Prajwal shetty said...

Deleting "HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\Outlook\FormRegions\*" wouldn't be a permanent solution as it reoccurs afer system restart

How about for the outlook conversation history view issue:
Turn off "Show add-in user interface errors" in Outlook:

In Outlook 2010, this is accessed via Files > Options > Advanced. In Outlook 2007, go to Tools > Options > Other > Advanced.

Prajwal shetty said...

Deleting "HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\Outlook\FormRegions\*" wouldn't be a permanent resolution as a system restart and it reoccurs.
Any thoughts for a permanent solution..?