UPDATED 4/25/11: ‘Hotfix’ issued for recent Microsoft security update that broke PowerPoint 2003

PowerPoint logoUpdated 4/25/11: Microsoft has released a hotfix for the problems caused by its Security Update last week that caused PowerPoint 2003 to have problems opening files with image backgrounds embedded in the slide template portion of the program. An explanation has been posted on Microsoft’s Technet Blog, and the hotfix is available in Microsoft’s KnowledgeBase. Microsoft says it will include the hotfix as part of the updates distributed in June so that other users who don’t download it now will receive the patch.

Still no explanation from Microsoft of how the destructive software update slipped through what the company describes as “extensive” testing of patches and updates.

Original Blog Post resumes here: It appears that Microsoft’s latest batch of Patch Tuesday updates may have broken one of its own Office programs, the popular presentation program PowerPoint.

The H Security Blog, published by Heise Media in the UK, carried the first report that there was a problem with Security Update for PowerPoint 2003 (KB2464588).  The solution, according to the H Security Blog, is to use the Windows Control Panel to uninstall the update. Microsoft is said to be aware of the problem and working on a fix, but their official workarounds, which involve copying the slides out of the defective file into a new PPT file, lose virtually all the formatting and styles that you may have labored over in creating the original PowerPoint deck.

I learned about the problem the hard way, by having the misfortune to have installed the patch — and have many of my Powerpoint files become unusable.

Last week I prepared a large PowerPoint deck for use in a news media interview training program I was conducting for a client. We used the deck on Friday, and as I was shutting down my laptop for the day, it decided to install 27 updates to Windows, and I decided to let it. I had rushed out of the house that morning by forcing Windows to shut down without doing the updates, because they never tell you how long the updates are going to take.

When I started the laptop over the weekend to work on some other video projects that were going to have PowerPoint slides in them, I got error messages from PowerPoint warning that the slide files had become corrupted and some images and slide content would not be displayed. I went back to other copies of the files, thinking it was maybe a thumb drive issue or something like that. But the same error was coming up on every deck I opened.

I just assumed the slide decks were all corrupted when I received them so didn’t pay too much attention. But on Monday, when I tried to open the PowerPoint I had used on Friday for the media training — a file I knew had worked fine on Friday — and got the same error message, I knew there was a larger problem. I thought it was a virus like the original macro payload viruses that affected early Microsoft Word documents, something that infected each file you opened in an infected version.

Turns out the answer is stranger than a PowerPoint virus. PowerPoint’s own creators have somehow broken their program.

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