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Obscure bug hits Mac Office 98

The bug, which can trash the System Folder, only strikes if you're trying to remove the newly released software suite.

A bug in a utility for Office 98 for the Apple Macintosh can trash the System Folder in the computer's operating system, but ironically it only strikes if you're trying to remove the newly released software suite.

The bug occurs when users run the Remove Office 98 utility, a CD that is part of the Office 98 ValuePak and used to uninstall Office 98, according to Microsoft.

If a user manually moves the Office 98 library to the Extensions folder from the Microsoft Office 98 folder and then runs the Remove Office 98 utility, the System Folder--rather than the Office 98 folder--will be put in the trash. The problem lies in the fact that trash is automatically emptied when the computer is restarted, meaning a user could unwittingly erase her System Folder.

While it's not unlikely that users would remove new software, it's fairly uncommon anymore to put the shared library in the extensions folder, Microsoft says. The company says the bug was discovered internally.

Microsoft posted a fix on its Web site over the weekend.

The Microsoft Office 98 upgrade, released on Monday, comprises a refresh of the full suite of Microsoft business applications: Word, a word processing program; Excel, a spreadsheet application; Outlook Express, an email and newsgroup reader; and the PowerPoint slide presentation program.

With the new release, Microsoft has sought to emulate the look and feel of Macintosh, for example matching the gray color of Office 98 tables to that of the Mac color scheme. The previous version of Office for the Mac, ported from Windows, was not "Mac-centric" enough, Microsoft has admitted.