Microsoft Office Configuration Analyzer Tool (OffCAT) is a very powerful and useful troubleshooting tool, which can help us to detect + solve issues related to Microsoft Office products such as Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Outlook, etc.
In this, article would like to emphasize the use of OffCAT for the process of troubleshooting Outlook problems\issue and relate particularly to the subject of “Outlook missing software updates”
When we try to start a troubleshooting process the main challenge is the element or to pinpoint the “factor” that is the case for the problem. For example, the “factor” that could cause Outlook problems could be: third party Outlook add-in\plugins, lack of software updates, corruption of Outlook cache file (OST file), Antivirus applications, network problem and so on. Finding the exact cause for the problems is not a simple task! The good news is that – the OffCAT toll can help us in this task by scanning the desktop environment, find a passable case for the problem and direct us to the required solutions.
How does the OffCAT tool work?
The OffCAT uses: “Office troubleshooting database” that includes a documentation and description of:
- Problems and causes related to Microsoft Office products.
- Solution and recommendation for solving or dealing with this issues.
When we use the option of: “OffCAT scan” the following steps are implemented:
- OffCAT will scan the local workstation and collect information about the “desktop environment” and the selected Office component (Outlook in our example) that includes: OS settings, registry settings, current installed software updates, Outlook settings, thread party add-ins and plugins and so on.
- The information that was collected is compared with the OffCAT troubleshooting database
- OffCAT tool creates a detailed report about the “finding” that was discovered in the scan. The information that was founded is displayed using a pre-defined view and classifications.
- Most of the time the report about a specific problem or issue that was discovered include the “remediation part,” the solution that is offered by the OffCAT tool. The solution could be link to article that includes instruction or best practice, link to missing software updates etc.
- Save\Export the OffCAT XML report – In case that the suggested solution helps us to solve the Outlook problem, then “everybody is happy.” If not, we can send all the information that was collected by the OffCAT tool to the Office 365 support team for further examination and Analysis.
Implement a troubleshooting process using the OffCAT tolls is based on the following Workflow
Download and install the OffCAT tool
You can download OffCAT by using the following link: Microsoft Office Configuration Analyzer Tool 1.2
- Click on the Download option
- In the next window choose the option: OffCAT.MSI
- After the installation is completed, you can find the icon of the OffCAT 1.2 on the Start menu.
Using the OffCAT scan
By default, OffCAT will be automatic connect to a Microsoft web site to look for new updates in the troubleshooting database.
OffCAT scan screen includes three main parts:
- The left menu section (“B” section) – includes options such as: start a scan, view a report, etc.
- The “scan'” part (“A” section) – includes a list of Microsoft Office products (in our example, we will choose the scan option for Outlook)
- Office alerts (“C” section) – this section includes an important notification that we will need to relate to. In the following screen shot, we can see a notification about the end of support for Office 2003 and Windows XP.
To start the required scan, choose Outlook.
Full Scan verses Offline Scan
The OffCAT can execute two types of Outlook scans: Full Scan, that require to “turn on” Outlook and Offline scan. The preferred option is the Full scan because, using this option, we can get more detailed information about the specific Outlook mail profile (Outlook can include more than one mail profile), and additionally, we get detected issues that appear only when the Outlook mail client is turned-on.
In the following screenshot, we can see that the OffCAT recognizes that the Outlook is not running. (You can see that the recommendation is: “please start Outlook and click here when done, or choose Offline scan in the list above“).
After staring Outlook, click on the option: “please start Outlook and click here when done, or choose Offline scan in the list above”
How to read the OffCAT scan results
The results that are gathered by the OffCAT scan could include a huge amount of data. To be able to use the information efficiently, the OffCAT report interface includes the following components:
- Issue alerts (Number 1) – In the issue alerts “red box” we can see a summary of the results. In our example, we can see that two of the results classified as” critical” and there are: 12 warnings + 54 informational events.
- Detailed information (Number 2) – On the bottom, we can see the “Gray area” which includes the detailed information from the OffCAT scan results.
Reading the scan results
At the bottom part of the screen, we can see the results grouped by different subjects such as: Symptoms: Add-ins, Symptoms: Configuration (unsupported or problematic), Symptoms: Product not updated, etc.
Each of this section includes import net and useful information about issues or problem that was discovered by the OffCAT scan process.
At this time, I would like to relate mainly to the category of: “Symptoms: Product not updated.” The information in that category is related to missing software updates that need to be installed. Many types of Outlook issues could be resolved by installing the required software updates.
Don’t forget that many of the software updates includes a fix for issues or problem that impact the Outlook client (Performance, stability, the ability to connect to Exchange server mailbox, etc.)
When we click on a specific log row from the Symptoms: Product not updated section, we can read a short description about the missing software update and use the link: “click here for a possible solution to this issue”
How to Download Microsoft Hotfix
In the section I would like to quickly review the subject of: Hotfix. One of the major advantages of the OffCAT scan is the ability to recognize problems that could be solved or fix by installing software updates classified as: Hotfix. This kind of software updates doesn’t include by default in the “software update the database.””. Microsoft software updates that described as: “Hotfix” is a little different from “standard software updates.” Hotfix updates, as the name implies, are “hot” software updates (temporary) that their primary function is to fix some issue\problem, until a “formal update” will be published. I discuss the issue of the “Hotfix” because of two reasons:
Hotfixes and Windows updates
From my experience, software updates that classified as: Hotfix is not downloaded (and installed) automatically by windows update component (or WSUS server).
Manually download and install procedure. The process of: download and install software updates that classified as: Hotfix is different from a “standard software update” because to be able to download a Hotfix, we will need to provide information about our email address and identification code. Only after the successful completion of this process, we will get a “replay mail” that includes the link for downloading the required software update (the Hotfix).
Step 1 – Access the download page
In our scenario, a missing Hotfix was discovered by the OffCAT scan. When we click on the link, we will get to a page such as the following page:
Click on the: Hotfix download available link
Step 2 – Request for the Hotfix
In the following screenshot, we can see that there are two versions for the Hotfix: 32 bit version and 64 bit version. When we are dealing with Hotfixes that related to Office, 99% of the time, the 32 bit version is the version that we will need. Despite the fact that most of the modern OS are 64 bit versions, most of the Microsoft Office versions are 32 bit.
- Choose the required version of the Hotfix. In our example, we choose the 32 bit version.
- Enter your email address
- Type the verification code that appears on the screen and click on the option: request Hotfix The final screen is an: Hotfix confirmation that displays the email address to which the download link will be sent
Step 3 – Download the Hotfix
In the following screenshot we can see an example to a mail that was sent that include a download link for the Hotfix.
Working with the OffCAT report file
Each time we create a scan the result is automatically saved in a report file using XML format. There could be a couple of scenarios in which we will need to read or export the OffCAT report. for example; In case that we have created a couple of OffCAT scans we have to option to look at each of the OffCAT scans compare the difference between each of the OffCAT scans additional example could be: export the data ( the XML file) for further analyses by additional technical persons ( organization tech support or the Office 365 tech support)
1. Access\read OffCAT scans reports.
In case that we want to read an OffCAT scans reports that was saved locally, we can choose the option of: VIEW OR IMPORT SCANS
In the following screenshot we can see that there are three scan results.
We can choose the required scan result and click on the option: View a report of this scan
2. Export OffCAT scans reports
In case that we want to send the OffCAT scans reports to a technical support, we can choose the option of: Export report
We will need to choose the location in which the XML report file will be saved.
3. Import OffCAT scans reports
In case that we want to read an OffCAT scans reports that was sent to us, we can chose the option of: ‘VIEW OR IMPORT SCANS” And then choose the option of: Import scan
- Office Configuration Analyzer Tool (OffCAT) information
- How to resolve crashing or stability issues in Office programs by using the OffCAT tool
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