May 2007 patch slows Outlook?

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Does one of the May 2007 security updates slow down Outlook?

Office Watchers have been complaining about Outlook grinding to a halt and thinking that it’s caused by the latest round of security patches from Microsoft. We hear comments like this very often and usually it’s just a co-incidence – the patch isn’t the real cause of the problem.

But with a May 2007patch it seems more likely. We’ve had many reports from people who swear that uninstalling the update number 931768 helps a lot (see below for the report of one reader).

Currently Microsoft is only admitting to one problem with the patch, related to machines with customised Temporary folders in IE. See this KB article . But looking around the web and the consistent messages from readers, we suspect there might be something ‘iffy’ about the 931768 update.

What can you do?

If you uninstall the patch you might be leaving your computer more vulnerable to attack. The security holes addressed in 931768 are NOT simple ‘hacked file’ attacks, so barring access to file attachments won’t help.

On this other hand, if your computer and Outlook is running really slowly there’s not a lot of point in having a computer. In this case you might decide to uninstall the Cumulative Security Update for IE 7 (931768) to see if your computer works better without it. If it does, make _very_ sure your computer is properly guarded with anti-virus and firewall protection. Windows Update will want to re-apply the removed update so you’ll have to disable automatic installation of updates.

I can’t stress enough that uninstalling a security update is a last resort for the desperate.

If Microsoft was more open you’d hope for some investigation and report into this – either way. The company could admit the patch has ‘issues’ and repair them or explain why customers are coming to an incorrect conclusion. Only Microsoft has the knowledge and resources to deal with this issue and they owe it to their customers to address it. As it stands we’ll probably have to hope for a fix slipped into a future release.


A report from Office Watch reader ‘JJ’:

I ( and apparently many others) have experienced a problem with the keyboard buffer slowing to a near halt when using Outlook 2003 to create or respond to email in HTML format after installing one of the May 2007 Patch Tuesday fixes for Internet Explorer 7 (KB931768). The buffer seems to store keystrokes and process each one for some reason. It takes about a second or so for each character to register on the screen after the key press. If you type fast, all the input is delayed for the a period proportional to the number of characters typed between typing pauses. So, for a whole sentence, you may have to wait 30 seconds or so for the entire input string to appear, which happens all at once after the delay.

Five of our systems with similar configurations (XP SP2, IE7, and Outlook 2003) are all affected identically. Uninstalling the KB931768 update clears the problem. Reinstalling it recreates the problem. Switching the message format to plain text bypasses the problem, but clearly isn’t a solution for everyone.

Some users have reported a connection to the problem if Spybot Search & Destroy is on the system (we have it on all five systems). In our case, even completely uninstalling Spybot and doing a registry purge to clear out leftovers does not fix the problem. Only the presence or absence of the KB931768 update seems to hold the key on our systems.

I hope this information is useful.

‘JJ’ 

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