Is the Microsoft Office Diagnostics feature new in Outlook 2007? How do I access and use it?

The Office Diagnostics feature in Microsoft Office 2007 replaces an earlier on-demand repair feature called Detect and Repair. In Office 2003 and Office 2000, Detect and Repair checked Office files and registry keys to identify and correct problems with the Office installation. Office Diagnostics comes with more in-depth testing and repair capabilities than Detect and Repair. There are five categories of diagnostics in the Microsoft Office Diagnostics tool, as shown in Figure 1:

  •  Known Solutions validates whether the installation of Office is up-to-date with the latest services packs.
  •  Memory tests the integrity of the RAM available to the system.
  •  Compatibility checks for stability problems created by installing applications from different versions of Office, such as conflicting DLLs.
  •  Disk checks the System Event Log and Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology (SMART) on hard drives if available.
  •  Setup tests for file or registry corruption for the Office installation.

To run Office Diagnostics in Outlook 2007 go to the Help menu, click Office Diagnostics, Continue, select the diagnostics you want to run, then click Run Diagnostics. Alternatively, you can launch Office Diagnostics from the Start menu. For Office 2007 on Windows Vista, this is found at Start, All Programs, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Office Tools, Microsoft Office Diagnostics.

Running Office Diagnostics through Outlook 2007 is simple but can be a little time consuming. Depending on the hardware specifications, the number of Office applications installed on the machine, and other resources being used while running the test, I’ve had full tests take between ten to forty minutes to run. You run the tests for the Office installation as a whole, not just for the application from which Office Diagnostics is run.

Office Diagnostics can make some repairs to the installation but in cases when Office Diagnostics doesn’t make repairs, it sometimes gives the administrator directions about how to handle identified problems, including recommendations to repair or reinstall. Office 2007 Setup has a command-line switch called /repair. Use the /repair switch if Office Diagnostics advises that a reinstall or repair is required.