Making Office 12.1.1 update work

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Reader Ed Fijalka is among a smallish group of readers who replied to my recent entry regarding Microsoft Office’s AutoUpdate application with a message along these lines:

I’ve tried numerous times to get the latest Office 2008 12.1.1. Update to install, but I keep getting “You cannot install Office 2008 12.1.1 Update on this volume. A version of the software required to install this update was not found on this volume.” All my previous updates, including the 12.1.0 update, have worked except this one. Do you know if Microsoft has a problem with this Updater?

As I said, Ed, you’re not alone. There are a variety of things that can cause this error message. They include:

  • You’ve downloaded a standalone updater for a language other than the one you originally installed. For example, if you installed the U.S. version of Office 2008 and have mistakenly downloaded the German updater version, the update won’t take.
  • You’ve moved or renamed the Microsoft Office 2008 folder. The updater won’t see your installation if you’ve moved it from the Applications folder at the root level of your hard drive. If you have moved it, put it back and the updater should work.
  • You’ve modified files within the Microsoft Office 2008 installation. For example, you’ve used a tool to strip out language or PPC support. The updater won’t work with such a modified installation.
  • You applied another Office update immediately before attempting to apply this one. Again, this can make the 12.1.1 updater cranky.

Supposing that you’ve done one of these things and you can’t put things back the way they were—you stripped language support, for example. Now what?

Reinstall Office 2008 by doing the following (and thanks to the Entourage Help Blog for providing these steps):

  • Log out of your account and, while holding down the Shift key, log back in to disable startup items. (Some of these startup items are elements of Office that you don’t want running in the background.)
  • Locate your Microsoft Office 2008 folder, drop it in the Trash, and empty the Trash.
  • Reinstall Office 2008 from your original disc and restart your Mac.
  • After restarting accept Office’s invitation to update to 12.1.0 (which is Service Pack 1).
  • Restart again and then update to 12.1.1. (It should work this time.)
  • Restart one more time and use Disk Utility to repair permissions.
  • Vow to never again muck with the innards of Office 2008.
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