All about MOICE


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The Microsoft Office Isolated Conversion Environment – MOICE – is an addition to the Office 2007 or the Office 2007 Document Compatibility Pack.

The Microsoft Office Isolated Conversion Environment – MOICE – is an addition to Office 2007 or the Office 2007 Document Compatibility Pack.

It is a method to convert incoming documents from the ‘old’ Office formats (.doc etc) to the new formats (.docx etc) which are ‘safer’ – ie less likely to be hacked and allow unwanted access to your computer.

The ‘isolated’ part means this method of conversion is intended to be safer than simply opening the document and saving it to the new format in the usual ways.


Downloading

How to download MOICE? We think we’ve worked out how to get it, but it’s hardly clear nor obvious.

According to Microsoft, Office 2007 and Office 2003 users will get MOICE automatically through Microsoft Update from 12 June 2007 onwards. Until then you can download it from the Microsoft Download Center – supposedly.

Try as we might, there’s no direct sign of the MOICE download on the Microsoft web site.

The link they provide at present is to the Office 2007 Document Compatibility Pack – not MOICE. The advice is to go to Microsoft Update to get MOICE – yet elsewhere Microsoft says MOICE won’t be available via the update service until June. Ever get the feeling you’re trapped in a revolving door?

Hunting down around the Microsoft web site, we suspect that KB article 934393 might contain MOICE. That because it is labeled thus ‘This update also add new functionality to convert documents in a secure environment’ – which would seem to describe MOICE without using the name.

It might seem strange to bundle a new security feature with one of the monthly Microsoft security patches, and it is.  But that’s what they’ve done with the File Block Functionality too.


Install & Use

Until we’ve had a chance to download and test MOICE for ourselves we’ve decided not to make any comment on how to use it – let alone whether you should.

Since Microsoft can’t seem to get the download information clear on their web site, we’re hardly going to trust anything they say about how MOICE is supposed to work.

Even if you do download and install MOICE (knowingly or accidently) it won’t do anything until you manually change the file associations on your computer. So don’t worry too much.

There is no published way to bypass MOICE conversion for individual files – however the File Block Functionality documentation suggests otherwise.


Problems

While the download and use instructions are lacking, Microsoft has been commendably open about some limitations in MOICE.

We’ve published all the known problems, from the Microsoft KB article, in a separate section below.

The biggest problem with MOICE is the Temp folder. Instead of saving the new file in the same folder as the source document, MOICE saves it in the system TEMP folder and changes the File Open dialog focus so that opens to that folder.

The %temp% folder for most people is located:



  • In Vista: C:UsersAppDataLocalTemp
  • In Windows XP: c:Documents and SettingsLocal SettingsTemp

If you open the source document many times there will be multiple copies of the converted document in the Temp folder.

Not only is this a strange place to put the file but it’s also accessible to anyone who has access to the computer.

If you’re working on sensitive information, where security is a premium, then you’ll hate MOICE’s habit of leaving data sitting around in place you might not expect.

Here are the known issues in Microsoft Office Isolated Conversion Environment – MOICE, as disclosed by Microsoft in a KB article, as at 22 May 2007:

” Issues that may occur when you use MOICE

  • By default, MOICE stops trying to convert a file if the conversion process takes longer than 45 seconds. To customize the time-out value, follow these steps.

    Warning Serious problems might occur if you modify the registry incorrectly by using Registry Editor or by using another method. These problems might require that you reinstall the operating system. Microsoft cannot guarantee that these problems can be solved. Modify the registry at your own risk.

1. Click Start, click Run, type Regedit, and then click OK.

2. Expand the following registry subkey: HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftOffice12.0OICE

3. Right-click OICE, point to New, and then click DWORD Value.

4. Type MaxConvTime, and then press ENTER to name the new value.

5. Right-click MaxConvTime, and then click Modify.

6. In the Value data box, type the time-out value that you want to use in milliseconds, and then click OK.

7. Close Registry Editor.



  • You cannot use MOICE to open a PowerPoint presentation that is created by using Microsoft PowerPoint 97 or that is created by using an earlier version of PowerPoint.
  • After you use MOICE to convert a file, the default save location is the %temp% folder when you try to save the file. Also, the %temp% folder is the default folder when you try to open a file.
  • Anyone who has access to the computer can view the files in the %temp% folder.
  • When you use MOICE to convert a file, the converted file is saved in the %temp% folder. The converted file is not deleted from the %temp% folder when the file is closed. If a file is opened multiple times, the file is converted multiple times. Additionally, more than one copy of the file is saved in the %temp% folder. If you have made changes to the first copy of the document, the second copy of the document will not contain the changes.
  • By default, the applicable program opens after MOICE finishes a file conversion. Then, the converted document is opened. To prevent the applicable program from opening, use the -noapp flag when you enter the MOICE command. The -noapp flag is useful when you want to complete batch conversions. For more information about batch conversions, visit the following Microsoft Web site.
  • Smart tag data is stripped from PowerPoint presentations when you use MOICE to convert a presentation that contains smart tags.
  • Macros are stripped from files when you use MOICE to convert files that contain macros.
  • When you use a link inside a file that has been converted by MOICE to open another file, the linked file is not converted by MOICE.
  • Embedded documents cannot be converted.
  • Documents that use rights management cannot be converted.
  • Documents that use passwords cannot be converted.
  • You cannot use the Edit Document in Microsoft Office Program_Name feature in Microsoft SharePoint when you use MOICE to convert Office files.

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