Font patch adds problems for PowerPoint

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Microsoft security patch causes new bugs.

It has to happen some times a new Microsoft security patch has caused a new bug to arise in PowerPoint among other software.

In the last set of security patches there was MS12-078 but the patch itself is faulty and will have to be replaced.

The patch is to fix a problem with OpenType fonts where a font file can be hacked in a way to allow remote access to the computer. The font could be embedded in a document so you would not have to install the font, merely open the document. The security hole applies to all versions of Windows from Windows XP onwards, including surprisingly Windows RT.

This type of problem has arisen before for both OpenType and TrueType fonts. The patch would have been applied with little notice except that it causes a problem.

After the patch is installed, PowerPoint and other programs can’t display text larger than 15pt, which is a considerable problem for PPT slides. Microsoft doesn’t say, but it appears to affect all versions of PowerPoint.

As far as we know, this only applies to OpenType fonts. We’ve not seen any reports of the same problem with TrueType fonts even though there’s a patch for that too.

The temporary ‘fix’ is to uninstall the patch but that should only be done if really necessary.

Microsoft’s response is typically dismissive and unhelpful:

“We are aware of issues related to OpenType Font (OTF) rendering in applications such as PowerPoint on affected versions of Windows that occur after this security update is applied.”

Some details of the new bug would be helpful to customers trying to narrow down the source of their particular problem.

“We are currently investigating these issues and will take appropriate action to address the known issues.”

Tells customers nothing and gives no indication of when a true fix will be available.

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