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Microsoft prone to protecting e-mail by disabling functions

February 22, 2001

I recently installed Office 2000 Service Release 1 on my computer as the suggested update for Office and Outlook to fix known security holes in these programs. As a result I am no longer able to receive attachments with the .EXE extension as well as a number of other file extensions. Is there anyway I can unblock their blocking?

A. Say thank you to Microsoft for protecting you from the evils of e-mail attachments.

If you really want to be safe in the land of electronic messaging, I suggest that you abandon Microsoft products completely. It seems that with every upgrade or patch, Microsoft removes more and more functions from its product. This situation you are experiencing is a perfect example. The way they have decided to protect you, the vulnerable end-user, is to disable features rather than actually repair the product.

The new patch makes it impossible to open program files in Outlook including VBScript (.vbs) files, which is what spread the Loveletter virus. This optional patch is aimed at making it more difficult for a virus to use Outlook to transmit itself via e-mail.

This aspect of the patch, however, means that some Outlook features will no longer function at all. In other cases, a user will need to authorize access by outside programs, including tools for synchronizing with PDAs such as the Palm or Windows CE devices or with Web sites and voice input systems and other accessibility utilities.

At companies that use Microsoft Exchange Server, administrators can customize the Outlook 98/2000 E-mail Security Update by installing a special Outlook custom form in a public folder and configuring security options for individuals and groups. Info on this can be found at

This is the only way to override the security settings in the update. Stand-alone users and users in other mail environments cannot customize the features.

There is a program that should help you with your attachment problem, though. It is called Chilton Preview, and you can download it from

This program adds a third window pane to your message preview in Outlook and file attachments can be opened or saved when applicable.

Every eighth or ninth time I save a file in Microsoft Word 2000 SR-1, I get an MSVCRT.DLL error message that closes down Word. When I start the program again, the computer asks if I want to save changes to my file. I experienced this problem immediately with both a new Dell using Windows ME and a new Gateway. Same problem! Gateway's trying to blame the problem on old documents files I'm using but these files work fine on my old Compaq using Word 2000 on Windows 98.

A. In this situation I would tend to agree with Gateway. It sounds like you have a macro virus in one or more of your Word documents. Since these files are a common link between the same problem being experienced on two separate computers I would be willing to bet on it.

Get a nice new virus scanner and check your docs.

Write to Jay Lee at


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