Microsoft has quietly issued a fix for a security update from its May Patch Tuesday for Office for Mac 2011 that killed Outlook for many Apple users.
Microsoft on Wednesday released Office for Mac 2011 update 14.5.1 to address what it concedes were “critical issues” in the prior update 14.5.0. By many accounts on Apple’s forums, it was a disaster for people who installed it.
According to Microsoft, 14.5.1 “fixes an issue that causes the main window not to open in Outlook for Mac 2011.”
It addresses an accidental side-effect of an update from Redmond on its Tuesday May 12 patch, which fixed multiple flaws that allowed a remote attacker to “overwrite the contents of your computer's memory with malicious code”. The issues affected Excel, PowerPoint and Word for Mac 2011.
While it fixed the vulnerability, for some Mac users it also killed Outlook — arguably one of the most if not the most critical tool for workers.
The first user who reported problems on Apple’s forums said the update could be “fatal”. The update left Outlook on his iMac running the latest version of OS X Yosemite (10.10.3) useless. He said Microsoft support was aware of an issue with the update but that there wasn’t a fix.
Some reported experiencing the same problems, compounded by hours spent with Microsoft support attempting to resolve the issue. Others reported a smooth update.
Mac users who had a Time Machine backup could roll back to the previous version but that would also leave them running a version of Office with a flaw in the public domain.
Mac security firm Intego said it normally encouraged users to install critical updates immediately but on this occasion urged caution.
“After all, the new Office for Mac 2011 fixes a remote code execution vulnerability. However, the update, as numerous reports are suggesting, can be a double-edged sword,” the company noted.
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