Microsoft Patch ProblemMicrosoft just can’t seem to catch a break lately in regard to its Patch Tuesday updates. This month, the company released a slew of patches for the various Office programs, but there have been ongoing problems even after one of those patches was pulled.

The latest episode in this drama affects users of the Office®  2010 Starter Edition, which many consumers are using because it came installed on their computers. Starter Edition includes only Word and Excel and the applications’ functionality is more limited than in the full suites, but for many home users, that’s enough. It’s not a trial version that times out after X number of days, so they can continue using the free programs to save the $140 cost of buying Microsoft’s current lowest-priced Office Suite, Home & Student Edition 2013.

After applying the September updates, however, users started reporting that their file associations had been changed, so that they could no longer open documents by double clicking them, and the file icons were different, showing up blank or in an orange color.  To add insult to injury, they got messages telling them that “The Microsoft Office product necessary to open this file is not installed on your computer” and inviting them to go online to purchase Office.

The culprit is the KB2589275 update. It was not a security update, but one that was intended to fix some performance and stability problems. The good news is that the files themselves are intact and the file associations can be fixed.

The easiest way to restore the file associations is to navigate to one of the files in question using Windows Explorer and right click on it, then select “Open with …”.  In the list of programs, select “Choose default program …” to permanently restore the association. Choose “Microsoft Client Virtualization Handler” or “Microsoft Application Virtualization DDE Launcher” as the default program. Microsoft posted these instructions, along with screenshots to help guide you through the steps, on the Office Updates blog on Technet.

If some file types still don’t open properly, the Starter Edition programs can be repaired by selecting the option to “Uninstall or change a program” in Control Panel and clicking the “Change” option. This gives you the choice to repair the existing Office installation, which should restore all the file associations.

Even though it’s fairly easy to reverse the problem caused by this particular update and even though it will not impact many business users, since they won’t be running Starter Edition on their company machines, the news that yet another patch is causing problems is likely to make already-wary IT pros dread Patch Tuesdays even more.

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