Updating Office 2008 troubleshooting

Just got done troubleshooting a problem I had with installing the update to Office 2008 for Mac and figured I may as well write up my fix and toss it out into the webz, just in case someone else finds themself in the same predicament.  In other words, unless you got to this post after searching for how to fix your Office install, don’t bother to read any further because it’s not going to be even slightly interesting.

(This is also for people that are savvy with a bit of UNIX – if you don’t know what ‘vi’ is, don’t bother to read any further because I’m not going to want to explain things to you beyond what I’m writing here).

So here’s the problem – Word tells you that there’s a new update of the software – version 12.1.9 in my case but I suspect that subsequent updates may have this same problem.  So you click on the ‘update’ button and it spends time downloading and then gives you an error that says

You cannot install Office 2008 12.1.9 Update on this volume. A version of the software required to install this update was not found on this volume.

No further information is available.  Nice.  Poked around a bit and found out that it was actually due to a rather overaggressive disk-space cleanup I’d done a while back to remove a bunch of foreign language stuff that I’ll never need, using the tool monolingual.  Languages were removed from my Office directory somewhere and the updater thinks something important is missing and won’t let me go any further.  So yes, mostly my fault.  Still, annoying.  

Here’s the fix that’s seemed to work for me:

1) Download the actual update from here: http://www.microsoft.com/mac/downloads.mspx

2) Copy it out of the DMG and onto your desktop. 

3) Open a shell and cd into the ~/Desktop/Office 2008 12.1.9 Update.mpkg/Contents/Resources directory.

4) vi the package_updatable file.

5) Find the line that says found_valid_version=False

6) Change the ‘False‘ to be ‘True

7) Remove everything after that line, up to (but not including) the line that says if not found_valid_version:

8) Save the file.

9) Go back to a Finder window that’s looking at your desktop and then run the modified update installer by doubleclicking on the Office 2008 12.1.9 Update.mpkg file.

… and it should now run the update and install properly.  If not, well, you’re on your own.  No warrantees, guarantees or contracts are implied.  Use at your own risk.  Lather, rinse, repeat. Flush after using.

In other news, Word for 2008 still sucks, is still buggy, and they still haven’t fixed the bug that’s been there since they first released Word 2008 where the state of what you’ve got collapsed in Outline mode doesn’t get saved when you close the document.  Which is annoying, very.

2 thoughts on “Updating Office 2008 troubleshooting

  1. Good hint. Thanks for posting! I have a similar issue with QuickTime on one of the office production machines. I can’t figure out why it won’t update. Maybe next time I run the updater I’ll check the Console.

  2. While I had the same symptoms as you, my solution was to log in as a user with admin/root privileges and then perform the update.

    However, it looks like Microsoft finally got their act together. I just got another update (12.2, I think) and that installed normally. Like the Apple updates, it knew enough to ask for the credentials of an admin/root user.

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