An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and if you use (or support) the PowerPC version of Microsoft Office 4.2, consider this article an ounce of prevention. If you run the PowerPC version of Microsoft Office (or have separate Power Mac copies of Word or Excel), it's time for an update, in the form of the Office 4.2x Update for Power Mac. The update prevents crashes (with what Microsoft calls a "System Error 11" message) that may occur if you launch an application after quitting Word, and that may occur when you print under QuickDraw GX 1.1.1 or 1.1.2, from any PowerPC version of Word 6 or Excel 5. The update should be placed in your Extensions folder, and - like most extensions - it loads into memory when you start up your Macintosh.
A contact at Microsoft explained that the first type of crash typically occurs after launching and quitting Word several times in one work session. On some Macs, the problem might occur after quitting Word only once, but typically, you have to launch and quit Word three, five, or even ten times in order to experience the problem. If you restart your Macintosh, another work session begins, and the problem should go away for several launches and quits. The Application Note that comes with the update suggests that the problem can occur after launching Word, but before quitting Word; however, my contact was quite clear about the fact that you must quit Word to bring about the problem.
Unfortunately, the original version of the update has two separate conflicts with each of two common extensions: the Global Village Toolbox extension and an extension that comes with STF Technologies's FAXstf software. Kyle Johnson <email@example.com> gave a detailed description of how he encountered the conflict: "About three to five seconds after launching any part of the Office Suite, a grouping of about ten pixels in the upper right corner of the screen began rotating colors and the machine locks. The onset of the hang can be accelerated by selecting any menu item."
Hang on, it gets more confusing. Microsoft has finished an update to the original Office 4.2x Update for Power Mac, and the update should be available now. Both versions are called Office 4.2x update for Power Mac, but if you do a Get Info on the original version, the version number will be displayed as "n/a." If you do a Get Info on the latest version of the update, the version number will be 1.01.
[A note about obtaining this update from Microsoft's FTP site: Microsoft apparently doesn't understand that BinHex (".hqx") files are text-only, so they are posting them on their server incorrectly (surprise!). In order to download this update, you must do so in binary mode. We recommend you download the file from the URL below using Netscape, which downloads pretty much everything in binary mode, or using Fetch, which has a Binary button that can force a binary download. Otherwise, configure your FTP client to treat the file suffix ".hqx" as a binary file (and make sure to change the setting back when you're done). -Geoff]
The online version of the Microsoft Knowledge Base does not currently document this problem, but I found an Application Note about the update at:
To find additional Word information in the Microsoft Knowledge Base, try:
Microsoft Corporation -- 800/426-9400 -- 206/635-7200 (support)