XP SP2 Office 97 Setup Failure and Registry Adventures

I recently had to setup Office 97 on a Windows XP machine that came with the dreaded SP2, making it impossible to avoid.

Before setup could complete, it gave an error registering htmlmarq.ocx and ended, saying setup did not complete successfully. Yet Word would run, it seemed.

You can’t always trust overt impressions. When a document management program attempted to open a document and launch Word through OLE automation (I know, COM automation), it turned out the VB environment of Word hadn’t installed and no could do. Darn.

So I tried again to make it work. I renamed the Office registry keys. I renamed the Microsoft Office directory. I installed again. Removed and installed. No dice. Duh. I finally thought to Google htmlmarq.ocx to see what I found, which led me rapidly to this page that contained a solution and was an eye-opener about something Microsoft does in XP, if not other operating systems.

Actually, I just checked Windows 2000 and it does have the same registry section, which leads to more commentary below, not directly related to the Office 97 setup.

Anyway, if you can’t get the Office 97 setup to complete on XP, you will need to run Regedit. That is, Start, Run, type “regedit” without the quotes, and press Enter or click OK. That will bring up the registry editor.

Be careful what you do in the registry editor. You can completely hose your system if you change or delete the wrong thing.

You will need to go to the following key:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindows NTCurrentVersionImage File Execution Options

That is, on the left you will initially see some top level keys under “My Computer.” Expand the one labeled HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE. Under that will be more, to be expanded out in tree fashion: Software, Microsoft, Windows NT, Current Version, Image File Execution Options.

At that point you will see a series of additional keys. For the Office 97 problem, look for htmlmarq.ocx and htmlmm.ocx keys. If you click on them, based on my experience, there will be no associated value over on the right. I gather the idea is by putting the item in Image File Execution Options without any options specified, you block it entirely. Was that the intent? I don’t know.

Rename them so they no longer match the original names. Afterward, the setup should complete successfully. It worked great for me, so I thought it would be nice to add visibility to the solution.

For what it’s worth, this had no bearing on the Outlook install of additional components that I wrote about previously. That stayed broken, and I did not find I needed to investigate further as everything worked as required in Outlook.

I poked around and found the same section exists in Windows 2000, as indeed it does in the whole NT OS family. Everything in there had values, of either “ApplicationGoo” or “DisableHeapLookAside.” The ApplicationGoo one sounds completely silly, and is notably applicable to install.exe, setup.exe and setup32.dll.

Naturally I Googled it, and found there is more to learn about the topic here, if not an exact answer to what ApplicationGoo is all about.

Finally, on Windows 2000 I did a test. I created an application named testaroo.exe, that simply pops up a message box saying “testaroo.” Then I added a key named testaroo.exe to that section and tried running testaroo.exe. It worked. So the key does nothing to prevent a program from running. Which makes sense, given the problem with htmlmarq was registering. I’m not going to take a test that far just now.

XP and Nero

I knew there was something else I encountered when building the computer that I wanted to mention here.

In XP, Microsoft incorporated some crude CDRW function native to Windows. I’ve yet to see it actually work, but it’s there, and was supplied by Roxio, an Adaptec spinoff.

Because Microsoft is what it is, and Ahead Software, which makes Nero, not having been the chosen vendor for the integrated stuff, XP makes a stink if you try to install the OEM version of Nero.

Well, it did when XP was still relatively new, so you’d assume a newer OEM release of Nero would come out to satisfy whatever hoop XP is making it jump, shark-like. It’s been well over a year since I made any effort to install a CD burner that came with Nero on an XP box and actually – gasp! – use Nero with it.

I didn’t think anything of it when I ordered my preferred brand of CDRW, which is preferred in part because it ships with Nero. Not that there’s anything wrong with the Adaptec CD burning software. Oh wait, it’s not Adaptec anymore. Right.

When I installed the software for the CDRW, it installed without complaint. When I tried to run it, there was the same old message on XP SP2 and the latest OEM version of Nero that there was on the original XP with the OEM version of Nero extant before XP shipped.

No, people. Wrong.

Either Microsoft is making absolutely sure it keeps Ahead Software’s Nero product looking bad to end users, such that more of a preference for Roxio will be created, or Ahead simply didn’t care and never updated the OEM stuff, or Ahead is taking advantage in an effort to funnel people into buying the full version of Nero software to make the error go away. It’s lousy no matter who the culprit is.

On the original computer I encountered this on, which has to be wiped and reinstalled anyway so it will become moot, neither the XP CD writing capability nor Nero have ever worked, rendering the CDRW useless. Way to go Microsoft.

Unless the native CD burning with XP works, having put a CDRW into that computer, instead of a standard CD-ROM will have been a waste. Not much of one, since the prices are so close now, but still.

Outlook 98 Mugged By XP Service Pack 2

Had some fun setting up a new machine with XP Pro. Sadly, it was the latest, updated to include the dreaded service pack 2, which is so bad that in my house we have stopped doing Windows updates, and I have a client who can no longer update at the expense of losing functionality.

I’ve never had any problem installing Outlook 98, which the client is still on, onto XP.

The procedure is to run setup, tell it to do a “full” installation, then when it’s done, to run setup again and add components that don’t install as part of a “full” installation.

Being that Microsoft was pushing to make everything it possibly could require Internet Explorer at the time, so it could justify its integration of the program into Windows all the better, the secondary component install for Outlook 98 is “web-based.” It checks what you have already installed, prompts you to tell it whether or not it’s okay for it to check what’s already been installed, and if you say yes, it shows the list of components and allows you to check off any you want to add (or presumably remove).

On XP with SP2, this web-based install is barred from functioning because it is unsafe; a security threat. It is barred from scripting and from generating that popup. Oh yay.

Ironically, one of the first programs I had installed on the machine was Firefox, removing IE from the desktop to discourage its use. But here’s a program using it unbidden, whether I want it to or not.

So I disabled the Windows firewall completely, lest it cause that or any other troubles. I made Internet Explorer as lenient as it can possibly get, allowing basically anything.

Nope. Still the popup is blocked. Still the adding of components is prevented. There appears to be no other way to add, them, either. What an outrageous thing to do.

Welcome to the world of “upgrade because I said so and will do everything I can to make things tough if you don’t.”

Secure Downloading

There’s a great discussion, entertainly and religiously tempestuous of course, going on over Firefox and Internet Explorer. Not about the browsers, at least not at first, but about whether the Firefox download can be trusted to be secured and the file you receive and install untampered with.

I’m following the comments in the Wizbang post, in which Kevin laughs at the post by a Microsoft employee that started the debate.

If you take it in the spirit of having pointed out a potential problem with Firefox distribution, it’s worth pondering. If you take it as a silly attempt to scare folks away from Firefox, it really is amusing.

In any event, I can’t recommend Firefox highly enough. It saves hours upon hours of work and boatloads of grief associated with malware that Internet Explorer all but invites onto computers. But hey, IE can be downloaded securely, with certainty you are getting the binaries Microsoft intended.

Not The Floppy!

Argh. NT4 doesn’t talk to hardware interrupts and can’t see drives via the BIOS the same way DOS and Win9x can. That Dell server with serial ATA RAID, even with a FAT16 partition ready, even installing from a directory on that partition, cannot handle the drive.

I obtained a driver that had an ever so slight possibility of making the whole thing work. What happened? NT could not see the floppy drive to add a final insult to the whole debacle.

So it turns out we will need to get Windows 2000 Server to make this work. Not Windows 2003 Server, because the network remains a mix with NT4 and 2000 is okay with that.

I’m very disappointed.


Turns out it sees the floppy if you hit F6 at the right time when NT4 setup starts. However, trying both Dell’s Windows 2000 driver for SATA and one from Adaptec for a similar controller, I got “file caused an unexpected error (0) at line 1213 in d:\nt\private\ntos\boot\setup\oemdisk.c” and that ended the attempt.