Bugs & Fixes: Office 2008 installation mishaps

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Microsoft kicked off 2008 by releasing a new version of its Office 2008 productivity suite. But if you’ve just installed the new version of the venerable $400 Office suite, stay alert for these issues:

Funky fonts

When you’re installing Microsoft Office 2008, the Installer advises you to quit all open programs, even non-Microsoft ones. Take this advice seriously. I inadvertently left Safari open and soon began having weird font display problems in Safari. Text appeared as if a random-character generator had typed it!

The fix is usually simple. Quit the problem program and relaunch it. This forces it to access the updated font versions installed by Office 2008. If, for some reason, this fails to do the trick, try deleting font caches using a utility such as Mark Douma’s $10 Font Finagler.

As a last resort, use Mac OS X’s Font Book utility (it lives in your Applications folder) to identify duplicate Microsoft fonts. Use Font Book’s Edit -> Resolve Duplicates command to turn off all versions except the most recent one.

Incorrectly assigned ownership

As noted by blogger Joel Bruner, there’s a problem with the installation of Microsoft Office 2008 that you likely won’t notice, but that could spell trouble—especially if share your Mac with other users or are connected to a server.

Several folders and files installed by the Microsoft Office Installer (such as /Library/Fonts/Microsoft, /Library/Application Support/Microsoft, and /Applications/Microsoft Office 2008) do so with the wrong ownership privileges. The result is that an otherwise non-privileged user could wind up with the authority to delete and replace files in these folders. Microsoft is reportedly working on a fix. In the meantime, this Macworld article offers work-around (as well as more background on the issue).

Microsoft’s Mac Business Unit announced a week ago that an Office 2008 update would be available in March, but it declined to comment on whether a fix for the ownership privileges issue will be included with that update.

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