Wow, talk about an annoying problem. I used System Restore on one laptop to restore its state back 2 months to fix a wireless issue. We had upgraded everyone to Office 2003 and this System Restore put Office 2000 back on. No worries, just upgrade it to Office 2003 again. However, after doing so the user would get a “Preparing to Install” prompt on each message they clicked on. I proceeded to rip Office 2003 off and do a complete install. No go. I deleted the Outlook profile under the Mail setup icon in the Control Panel and the Outlook branch in HKCU\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Office\11.0. Clean and pristine as it could be and the blasted “Preparing to install” prompt kept coming back like the plauge.
The solution was the Windows Installer Cleanup Utility. It seems that some part of Office 2000 was still installed and had attached itself to Outlook 2003. Everytime I launched Office 2003, Office 2000 stepped in and tried to heal itself. Of course the prompt doesn’t say what is trying to install which makes troubleshooting this clear as mud.
– Soli Deo Gloria