A Microsoft Office horror story (or, how “powerpnt.msp” broke everything)

Having heard (and seen) much about Microsoft Office 2007’s new UI, when I had the opportunity to have a look at Office 2007, I popped in the cd to check it out. That turned out to be a small nightmare.Here’s the background: the system was my g/f’s, it ran Windows XP Pro and had Office 2003 Pro installed. It’s the laptop she got with her job. Wanting to have a quick, vague look at Microsoft Office 2007, I started the setup, not wanting to go any further then the setup, as this wasn’t a system I wanted to install anything on.

The setup took a long time to load. A very, very long time. Normally, I’d worry about it, or kill it. But over the years, I, like many others, had learned that long delays were not unusual for MS’s software. So I let it run. It didn’t say much, just “loading” or something like that, no explanation of what it was doing, nothing. All I had done was start the setup, it didn’t ever ask me anything. I considered killing the process, but I didn’t want to take the risk of it leaving unpacked crap on the system, as CCleaner wasn’t installed.

Apparently, Office 2007 had detected that a previous version of office was already installed, so it’d just upgrade it. My g/f not being a technical person, this was definitely not what I wanted, as the new UI would confuse her (even more so because the new UI isn’t as intuitive as the old one, IMHO).

No problem, I thought: I’ll just use system restore. That did vaguely restore it and removed Office 2007, but every Office 2003 application I’d try to start would give me an error message saying that it couldn’t find “powerpnt.msp”, and if I wanted to locate it. I searched the drive, but as there was no powerpnt.msp to be found, I closed the dialog. After that, the application closed as well.

You’d think that “powerpnt.msp” would only apply to powerpoint. Nope, it broke excel, word, powerpoint, etc., etc. Even Internet Explorer & Windows Explorer would give the messages, but they’d at least still start after I closed the error message. Yet another reason why everything being so tightly integrated into Windows is detrimental.
So I reinstalled Office 2007 temporarily, so that documents could at least still be modified, albeit with another interface. Office 2007 applications also gave messages about powerpnt.msp, but it’d still start, luckily.

After that, I went hunting for powerpnt.msp. I found many different versions of it, apparently depending on the service pack level. All versions were refused. Searching the ‘net didn’t turn up anything relevant, either. Posting in some forums didn’t help: the end conclusion seemed to be I had to reformat.

Reformat the operating system! For a malfunctioning office application! Besides that not being an option because of the system being a corporate one, that was a ridiculous thought.

After many fruitless attempts, I finally figured out a solution:

  1. Install “Windows Install Clean up“. That didn’t go as planned – it kept complaining about not being able to access startMsi.vbs. Luckily, 7-zip was able to extract the archive, so I could start the installation manually.
  2. Remove office 2003.
  3. Install a “Product key recovery” demo. This only shows the first part of the key (as it’s a demo), but it shows the user & company name associated with Microsoft Office 2003 (I wanted it to completely identical).
  4. Use “Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder” (a free tool) to view the complete key.
  5. Download Microsoft Office 2003 Professional (this being a corporate system, I didn’t have installation cd’s) and install it using the information retrieved in steps 3 -4.
  6. Install the “Office Compatibility Pack“, so Office 2007 file formats are supported (should be installed automatically through “Microsoft update”, IMHO).

This was a problem that never should have happened. First, Office 2007 failed (installed itself automatically). Then, Windows System Restore failed (didn’t restore powerpnt.msp correctly). After that, Office 2003 failed (none of the applications could start because of some powerpoint file missing). And if that wasn’t enough, Internet/Windows Explorer failed as well, as it didn’t gracefully handle a file missing from an optional package.

Anyway, I hope this blog post can help someone who’s experiencing the same problems out.



  1. Sor58 said

    It’s work …

    แก้ปัญหา POWERPNT.MSP ได้แล้วครับ

  2. Bob said

    Thank you so much for sharing your fix for this… I’d never heard of the “windows installer clean up” program before, but I’ve been battling with programs that were installed by windows installer for almost a week now, everything I’ve tried up till this point was ineffective… Any program installed with windows installer would refuse to uninstall, and refuse to reinstall.. I’m really frustrated with MS’s single points of failure like this.

  3. kr0n said


  4. Flal said

    Worked for me too…

    Thanks a lot !!!

  5. Richard said

    Well done for a good post I am sure you will help lots of people I have a similar problem but am hoping I will be luckier than you were, as I have the install disk!!!


RSS feed for comments on this post · TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: