3 Solutions to Office 2013 Issues After the Windows 8.1 Update

I had intended on writing a response to this article today:
How PSTN Voice in Lync Online Will Bring Unified VoIP to the Masses – BetaNews
I don’t 100% agree with it, but it makes some great points.

Instead, today I’m posting about the severe software issue I encountered.

Here’s the scene: Yesterday, I installed the Windows 8.1 Update on my computer. Took about 90 minutes in all, but it went smoothly. At least until today…when I tried to open Word.

Lync 2013 opened just fine. But Word – and every other Office application – refused. They only displayed the following error:

“This update package could not be opened”

Hey now, what’s going on here?

Problem 1: Disrupted Office 2013 Installation

So I tried to repair Office 2013 via Control Panel. No change.
I decided to try uninstalling…but the uninstall failed.

Okay, to the Web for some answers. According to this Microsoft Answers thread, many people have a similar problem.

Apparently Windows 8.1 will sometimes throw an update error into Office 2013. The solution – at least the one that worked for me – is to uninstall Office completely and install fresh.

If your Control Panel uninstall option won’t work, use the Microsoft Fixit Tool here: How to uninstall Office 2013 or Office 365 – Microsoft Support. It did the job for me.

Problem 2: Registry Prevents Reinstall

Now, to reinstall Office 2013. I downloaded the ISO from our network store, mounted it locally, and ran Setup.
…And just as it started copying files, it froze up.
“Setup cannot find office.en-us officelr.cab”


What?! The file is right in front of me! How can it not find the CAB file?

Back to Google. The problem wasn’t with Office Setup; it was with the computer. Specifically, the Registry already has an Office entry in it, and it was blocking a new install.
Most of the solution is here: Setup cannot find Office.en-us\OfficeLR.cab – FixYa.com
The site is ad-heavy, so here’s a short version: Copy the Office 2013 Setup files to disk. Open RegEdit. Locate the following folder:
Delete the entire folder. Re-run Setup.

However, I had to do some permissions changes to make it work. RegEdit refused to delete one of the keys in the Office Registry folder.

If you face this, here’s what you do: in RegEdit, click the key you want to delete. Go to Edit -> Permissions. Select every choice under “Group or User Names”.
Under Permissions below, check “Allow” by Full Control. For every choice, ALL APPLICATION PACKAGES down to Users.
Click OK. Now you should be able to delete the keys, and the “Office” folder itself.

(Don’t worry; Office Setup will put this back later.)

Problem 3: Outlook Thinks it Needs the License Key Again (But it Doesn’t)

After I removed the registry folder, Office 2013 installed fine. I opened Word, Lync and OneNote with no problem.


Outlook loaded, but immediately displayed an error. “Microsoft Office cannot verify the license for this product.”

And of course, Outlook closes when you click OK.

Again I tried repairing the (brand new!) Office 2013 installation in Control Panel. Rebooted twice. No other problems but this one.

Returning to Google a third time, I found the solution. Turns out Outlook doesn’t have a problem with the license key…it’s somehow put itself in Compatibility Mode!

Documentation & Solution here: Error: “Microsoft Office cannot verify the license for this product.” – Microsoft Support

I followed the steps and found Outlook was indeed set to run in Windows 7 Compatibility Mode. I unchecked the box…and NOW Outlook works.

All of Office 2013 works again. Though my Lync client never once had a problem through all of this. A little odd, but I’m just grateful I didn’t have to fix it too!

If I’d had any inkling of what would happen after, I’d have postponed the Windows 8.1 Update for a few weeks. These sorts of errors are extremely frustrating! I ran the update to improve my system, not mess it up.

I hope documenting this issue will help my fellow Windows 8 users & administrators. We’ll be back next week with more Lync discussion!



  1. Exasperated

    Thanks so much! This was THE seemingly unattainable answer. Tried so many other searches, uninstall, reinstall multiple times and nothing worked until I found your post! Even called Microsoft and they said my key was blocked because it had been pirated (it wasn’t). Thanks so very much. FYI I’m Windows 7 x64

  2. Capt Lord

    Thank goodness for people like you! After battling for two days to install Office 2013 on a remote computer, (something I have done may times before) and following several “successful” remedies to no avail, I discovered your Blog.
    Deleting the MSO registry key did it for me!
    It was so infuriating to run the installer which would stop almost immediately, open a window which claimed that it could not find the installation files, yet point to where they were! This was after the installer had written to the C:\MSOcache!
    Thanks again for your persistence, and moreover, for taking the time to publish your findings.

  3. integrita systems

    Problem #3 from above didn’t work for me on a stubborn Office 2013 Professional Plus installation because Properties didn’t have a Compatibility tab. So here is what I did to fix this problem –

    1. Navigated to C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office15.
    2. Right click on Outlook.exe and select Troubeshoot compatibility.
    3. Select Try recommended settings which put it into Windows 7 compatibility mode.
    4. Click Test the program and watch Outlook give you the same message – “Microsoft Office cannot verify the license for this product. You should repair the Office program by using Control Panel.”
    5. Close Outlook
    6. Click Next in the Program Compatibility Troubleshooter.
    7. Select No, try different settings then Next.
    8. Make sure all the check boxes on the next screen are all unchecked (i.e. The program worked in earlier versions of Windows…) then Next.
    9. Select “No, I am done investigating the problem – undo any changes made and clear all settings.” then Next and finally Close.
    10. Open Outlook and hopefully you will not get the message.

    1. chris.williams *

      No Compatibility Tab? Huh. Stubborn indeed. Thanks for documenting your process here. Glad it worked out!

    1. chris.williams *


      Any time you edit the registry, there’s a chance of breaking something. This method never gave me any problems. But as always, proceed with caution.

  4. Rico Tucker

    Thank you so much! Deleting the registry files did the trick. I’ve searched for hours for a fix!

  5. Geert Bertens

    thx a lot! Compatiblity mode was the answer for us 🙂
    Luckily we found this post before reinstalling Office on this remote desktop server…

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