Office 2003 Knowledge Gems

I’ve been spending a lot of quality time with Office 2003 lately – mostly due to the fact that I am helping my current client upgrade their 800+ desktops from Office 2000.  I will post a few blog entries over the next week or so and share some interesting knowledge gems from my deployment.

Corporate Error Reporting

If you purchase Software Assurance with your Microsoft Products, then you have access to Corporate Error Reporting (CER) 2.0.  CER allows you to collect crash messages from your newly deployed Office 2003 clients, enabling you to spot problems early and provide a pro-active deployment experience.  We are using CER to collect errors from our pilot deployment of approximately 20 Office 2003 Professional clients.  Client PCs are configured using a special CER Group Policy template to forward crash messages to the internal CER server (instead of sending them directly to Microsoft).  Once a sufficient number of crashes are logged in CER, the administrator can upload them in bulk to Microsoft for analysis.  Microsoft usually responds quickly with potential fixes, if they exist.

Setting up CER is a snap, and testing it couldn’t be easier.  CER is just a specially-permissioned shared folder on a network file server, along with a 32–bit GUI to scan and analyze the directory of uploaded crash messages.  Office 2003 clients have an application called Microsoft Office Application Recovery that can manually create a crash condition to aide in testing your CER deployment.  This is especially useful because to be honest – legitimate crashes don’t happen that often.  To simulate a crash, simply launch an Office 2003 application, run Office Application Recovery (under Microsoft Office | Microsoft Office Tools | Microsoft Application Recovery) and select “End Application”.  This will cause the application to terminate and then send the crash message to CER for analysis.  Pretty cool stuff.  And I’ve also discovered that CER isn’t limited to collecting crash information on Office 2003.  It can also collect info on Media Player, Internet Explorer, and several other Microsoft products.  If you are paying for Software Assurance – you should definitely check out CER to get more value out of your SA investment.

More Office 2003 Posts Coming Soon:

  • The Importance of Local Installation Source
  • Dealing with Upgrade Compatibility Issues
  • End-User Complaints