Office 2013 install woes

Problems installing Office 2013 made much worse by a useless error message.

Installing Office 2013 as a subscription can be an exercise in frustration thanks to some very naïve decisions by Microsoft.

It’s a problem with the ‘Click to Run’ streaming install used by Office 365 subscribers.

You click on the small install program and might be rewarded with this unhelpful message.

Office 2013 Click to Run error message image from Office 2013 install woes at

Couldn’t install Office

We’re sorry, something went wrong while we were trying to start your program.

Please try starting your program again, or use the Repair option from the Programs and Features item in your Control Panel if it still won’t start.

We’re sorry, Office couldn’t be installed.

Please try installing Office again

You can go online to find more help.

See what we mean by ‘unhelpful’? There’s no error code or details just ‘something went wrong’ which is exactly the kind of talk which makes any support person crazy!

The suggested Repair options don’t help much nor does the online support. Support forums are of little help because the only error message (above) gives no hard details to work with. Forum helpers ask for the exact error message but there’s nothing more people can tell them. There’s nothing in the Windows Event Viewer to assist.

The link ‘to find more help’ isn’t a lot of help, certainly nothing specific when we looked.

An error message like that is inexcusable. It was probably the idea of a team convinced that they had all the install issues covered and giving information to mere customers would only confuse them. The possibility of unforeseen problems apparently never occurred to Microsoft – despite decades of installation experience that shows that happening time and again.

The error message could be caused by all manner of problems. We can only suggest what worked for us:

The problem seemed to be some difficulty with Windows, possibly some part of Windows wasn’t installed or configured properly. We finally used the Windows install disk to either repair or reinstall Windows then Windows Update to reinstall Service Pack 1 (for Windows 7) and all the patches. This all took some time and multiple passes through Windows Update. Finally we had a reinstalled Windows that was totally up to date. Only then did Click to Run deign to run properly.

That’s a pretty extreme solution but it’s what you’re left with when you have no hard information to diagnose the problem.

If you get a message like this, don’t hesitate to call Microsoft Support. Support is free for installation problems and this is clearly a problem of Microsoft’s own making.

The lack of proper on-screen details of an install error is unforgivable arrogance from a company that should know better.  Possibly the push to make the first setup download very tiny meant dropping ‘extraneous’ and ‘unnecessary’ details like proper error messages?

This problem has been known for some months with no apparent action from Microsoft.  There’s no good reason for that except an unwillingness to accept there’s a problem or act to fix it.

Even if/when the links to web support are updated, that advice can’t be truly helpful without some details of what caused the problem on that specific users computer.

The initial setup program for ‘Click to Run’ install is very small and it should not be beyond Microsoft’s talent to change that program to display some more useful error codes or details.    All that’s lacking in a willingness to do something.

At the moment, Microsoft doesn’t seem to care.  After all, the customer has already purchased so they have your money.  Support can be delegated to web pages or, even worse, unpaid volunteers on Microsoft’s own forums.   The time wasted on due to a buggy and unexplained install isn’t a cost to Microsoft so fixing the problem is a low priority, despite vague promises otherwise.

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