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Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 pulls a vanishing act

Last Friday the program was installed on my Vista PC; this morning it was gone.

I was all set to write about handwriting in Microsoft Office 2007 today, but a funny thing happened on my way to open Outlook 2007: The program vanished. Gone. Without a trace.

I started to wonder whether somebody had slipped me one of those medications that has the unwanted side-effect of sending people sleepwalking, and sleep-driving, and maybe even sleep-application-deleting. I wouldn't doubt that if I were acting out unconscious wishes as I slumbered, uninstalling Outlook would be at the top of my to-do-while-somnambulant list.

No, I turned off the PC on Friday evening--closing Outlook before I shut down--and didn't turn it on again until yesterday morning. The program's entry was gone from the Start > All Programs > Microsoft Office menu, and its familiar white-and-brown shortcut was not in the quick launch toolbar. The last time I made any significant changes to Outlook was when I installed the SyncMyCal add-on more than a week ago, but I had used the app many times since then without a problem, and SyncMyCal was still where I left it. Hmmmm.

I figured I would leave the mystery unresolved and use Vista's System Restore to roll back my PC to last Friday. No go. Although there were several restore points created last Friday, I kept getting a "could not restore" message after each try. I chose earlier restore points one at a time, going all the way back to last Tuesday, but none took. Hmmmm again.

I'm not easily thrown by computer weirdness, but an app going AWOL had me looking over my shoulder. Last Friday I installed the LogMeIn remote-access program on another PC in my office and used the suddenly Outlook-less machine to access it. Could LogMeIn have knocked out Outlook 2007? I have no evidence to support such a conclusion.

So I did what any Windows user would do: I ignored the situation and tried to reinstall just Outlook 2007, but the only thing that would return the program to its rightful place on my Start menu was uninstalling Office 2007 altogether and reinstalling the whole package. The process didn't appear to affect any other Office members: Word and Excel still listed my most recent documents when I clicked the Office button, though Excel required some automatic reconfiguration before it would open. Powerpoint, Access, even OneNote (which I'll be writing more about tomorrow) opened as if nothing happened.

I appear to be back in business now, though I'll be keeping a closer watch on my Start menu items from now on.

Tomorrow: handwriting in Office 2007 (this time for sure!)