Archive for the ‘Outlook’ Category

Outlook Message Body Blank

Suddenly many users alerting that the message body of their e-mails, using Outlook desktop app, are blank. Also they cannot type in the body of a new e-mail or reply. Microsoft has released the following statements:

Latest message, May 11, 2021 7:24 PMView historyTitle: Issue affecting viewing email content in Outlook User Impact: Users may be unable to view email message content within Outlook. More info: Impact is specific to the Outlook client and users with access to other protocols, such as Outlook on the web or the Outlook mobile app, can view message content in those platforms as a potential workaround while our fix is applied. Current status: We’ve identified the underlying cause of impact and are applying a fix. This fix will reach all affected users incrementally over the course of the next four-to-five hours. Once users receive the fix, they will need to restart their email client to apply the fix. In some circumstances, users may need to restart their client a second time for the changes to take effect. We expect to complete this process and restore service for all affected users by May 12, 2021, at 3:00 AM UTC. We encourage affected users who are able to do so to leverage the workarounds described above in the “more info” section of this post while we complete the process of fixing this problem. Scope of impact: This issue could affect any user attempting to view an email message in the Outlook client. Root cause: A recent change to systems that facilitate text display management for content within the Outlook client caused impact. Next update by: Wednesday, May 12, 2021, 12:00 AM (3:00 AM UTC)

“May 11, 2021 6:19 PMView historyTitle: Issue affecting viewing email content in Outlook User Impact: Users may be unable to view email message content within Outlook. More info: Initial reports indicate that impact is specific to the Outlook client and users with access to other protocols, such as Outlook on the web or the Outlook mobile app, can view message content in those platforms as a potential workaround. Current status: We’re continuing to analyze recent updates to the environment and the associated code as we work to isolate the cause of impact. Our efforts are focused on determining the most expedient means of remediating this issue. Scope of impact: This issue could affect any user attempting to view an email message in the Outlook client. Next update by: Tuesday, May 11, 2021, 7:30 PM (10:30 PM UTC)

May 11, 2021 5:28 PMView historyTitle: Issue affecting viewing email content in Outlook User Impact: Users may be unable to view email message content within Outlook. More info: Initial reports indicate that Outlook on the web is unaffected and users with access to Outlook on the web can view email messages there while we work on a solution. Current status: We’re gathering and analyzing data in an effort to isolate the cause of impact. Initial reports indicate that impact is specific to the Outlook client and users with access to other protocols, such as Outlook on the web or the Outlook mobile app, can view message content in those platforms as a potential workaround. Scope of impact: This issue could affect any user attempting to view an email message in the Outlook client. Next update by: Tuesday, May 11, 2021, 6:30 PM (9:30 PM UTC)”

Install Office on Remote Desktop Server

You cannot install a standard version of Office on an RDS server.  Prior to Office 365 you had to buy Enterprise licenses for each user which are quite expensive.  I understand Enterprise licenses are still available and I assume they will still work but you may already have a suitable Office 365 subscription, or you can upgrade to one that will.   Your Microsoft 365 license must include Office Pro Plus, a Business Standard license will not work.  There is an Office Pro Plus license or an E3 or higher license includes Office Pro Plus.  With Office/Microsoft 365 you can use your current licenses but have to download a special installation version and jump through a few hoops.  This method is supported by Microsoft.

(Oct 2020 update: Microsoft has changed the naming of it’s Office 365 subscriptions to new Microsoft 365 names. I believe the minimum license level now is Microsoft 365 Business Premium but be sure to confirm with your vendor. The following is a Sept 2020 article referencing the install with the new licenses https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/deployoffice/deploy-microsoft-365-apps-remote-desktop-services#:~:text=If%20you%20use%20Remote%20Desktop%20Services%20%28RDS%29%20to,installation.%20The%20following%20are%20two%20common%20RDS%20scenarios%3A )

Note: when installing apps on terminal servers in the past you had to put the server in “Install mode” by running from an elevated command prompt 

  •    Change User /Install
  • and to exit Install mode run
  •    Change User /Execute

Though this is still recommended, I tried it without doing so and it worked, but make sure you are an administrator of the machine (local or domain) and all other users are logged out. I recommend a clean reboot before starting.

Create a shared folder such as \\RDS\O365 pointing to C:\Temp\O365  

Download the Office deployment tool from the link below and extract to your shared folder  \\RDS\O365

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=36778

Create an .xml configuration file for the download and save to the same folder. I named DownloadConfig.xml 

<Configuration> 
  <Add SourcePath="\\RDS\O365" OfficeClientEdition="64"> 
   <Product ID="O365ProPlusRetail" > 
     <Language ID="en-us" />      
   </Product> 
   </Add> 
</Configuration>

Download the custom version of Office.  To do so open an elevated command prompt, change to the directory containing the .xml file  C:\Temp\O365\MayBeSubfolder and run the following command.

setup.exe /download DownloadConfig.xml

This may seem like it hangs, but wait.  I believe it took about 15 minutes with my connection.

Create another .xml configuration file for installation and save again to the same folder. I named InstallConfig.xml

<Configuration>
  <Add SourcePath="\\RDS\O365"
       OfficeClientEdition="64" 
       Channel="Monthly">
    <Product ID="O365ProPlusRetail">
      <Language ID="en-us" />
    </Product>
  </Add>
  <Display Level="None" AcceptEULA="True" /> 
  <Property Name="SharedComputerLicensing" Value="1" />
  <Logging Level="Standard" Path="C:\Temp" />
</Configuration> 

Deploy Office using:  \\RDS\O365\setup.exe /configure  \\RDS\O365\InstallConfig.xml

Note: you must use the full path

Again it may appear to hang, but be patient

If you ran Change User /Install before starting, run Change User /Execute

Microsoft has more detailed information and options to customize the xml files at:

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/deployoffice/deploy-microsoft-365-apps-remote-desktop-services

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/deployoffice/office2019/deploy

Outlook fails to start

Immediately after Windows updates today on 2 different systems, so far, you cannot open Outlook.  As soon as you open it closes.  Next time you open you get the Open Outlook In Safe mode popup, which also doesn’t work.  After looking at commonalities in the two systems and trouble shooting it seems the issue was the July 14th ‘Patch Tuesday’ update “Cumulative Update for Windows 10 Version 1909 for x64-based Systems (KB4565483)”.  The update includes multiple features but among them is “Updates to improve security when using Microsoft Office products.” Uninstalling the update immediately resolved the issue.

If unfamiliar with doing so go to Control Panel, click on “Programs and Features”, then “View installed updates”, locate the (KB4565483) Update, right click and choose uninstall.  As always you should have a backup of your system before adding or removing updates.

I have also selected “pause updates for 7 days” in case it tries to reinstall before Microsoft has a fix.

Update: It seems this does not always work. Instead you need to roll back Office, however Microsoft has apparently realized the problem and is pushing out the fix.  To enforce, just close Outlook and re-open.  This worked on the latest machine with which I had a problem and there was a message in Outlook about the issue when it did open.  It may not be pushed out to all machines yet so waiting a couple of hours may be necessary.  See the following link from Microsoft regarding details: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/office/active-investigation-into-outlook-crashing-on-launch-9c59ad4b-813c-432a-afdc-f14717a4528d?ui=en-us&rs=en-us&ad=us

Microsoft 365, Outlook, & MFA

When you enable multifactor authentication in Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) with an existing tenant, Outlook starts asking for a password and will not accept your current Microsoft 365 password.  You then need to use app passwords for Outlook, rather than standard MFA with your password and a second option such as the Microsoft Authentication app, Txt, E-mail, or call.  Those options work fine with access to Web and other Office Apps but not Outlook. See the following link to manage App Passwords; https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/active-directory/user-help/multi-factor-authentication-end-user-app-passwords#:~:text=To%20create%20app%20passwords%20using%20the%20Office%20365,password%2C%20and%20then%20select%20Next.%20More%20items…%20

You can however enable standard MFA methods for Outlook using powershell.  The credit for most of the instructions below goes to; https://www.petri.com/enable-modern-authentication-exchange-online

Instructions to enable MFA with Exchange On-line (paraphrased)

When asked for credentials, you need to use an O365 admin account that does not have MFA enabled.  I create one without an Office license just for this.

I use the PowerShell ISE but I suspect standard PowerShell run as admin will work as well

Connect to an Exchange PowerShell session by running the following 2 lines

$UserCredential = Get-Credential

$Session = New-PSSession -ConfigurationName Microsoft.Exchange -ConnectionUri https://outlook.office365.com/powershell-liveid/ -Credential $UserCredential -Authentication Basic -AllowRedirection

This is not in the Petri link above, but you need to run the following line to allow running scripts

Set-ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned

Test if MFA is already enabled.  Will return “false” if not enabled

Get-OrganizationConfig | ft name, *OAuth*

Assuming not enabled run

Set-OrganizationConfig -OAuth2ClientProfileEnabled:$true

Then run the following again to confirm now enabled, i.e. “True”

Get-OrganizationConfig | ft name, *OAuth*

Close session

Remove-PSSession $Session

I find it takes 30-60 minutes before the policy is applied and changes in use

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