Cannot Open Office 2003 Documents Protected with RMS


The following patches are available to correct the issue noted below.
For now you need to call support (1-800-936-4900) and reference one of the below KBs to obtain them, but it will be a no-charge incident. Keep in mind that you *must* be up to Office 2003 SP3 in order to install these hotfixes.


This was taken directly from the Office SE teams website:

Starting on December 11, 2009, customers using Office 2003 will not be able to open Office 2003 documents protected with the Rights Management Service (RMS) or save Office 2003 documents protected with RMS. The following error message may be displayed when attempting to Open RMS Documents using Office 2003:

"Unexpected error occurred. Please try again later or contact your system administrator"

This symptom affects Office 2003 products used in conjunction with RMS, including Word 2003, Excel 2003, PowerPoint 2003 and Outlook 2003. It does not affect Office 2007.

We are working to resolve this issue as quickly as possible and we will provide customers a solution as soon as we can.   Any new updates and we will post the information here.



Additional Info
I've had people ask me how they can determine the expiration date of the manifest files after they update. Here are the steps you can do if you so desire: For this example I'll use the EXLIRM.XML file located in C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office12 (I'm using the files in 12 because I don't have 2003 installed..but its the same process)

1.)    Save the manifest file to another location
2.)    Edit the XML file (the one you moved) and remove the <?xml version="1.0"?><CERTIFICATECHAIN> from the beginning.
3.)    Go to Edit>Replace
4.)    In the Find what: box enter <CERTIFICATE>
5.)    In the Replace with: box enter -----BEGIN CERTIFICATE-----
6.)    Hit ‘Replace All’
7.)    Go to Edit>Replace
8.)    In the Find what: box enter </CERTIFICATE>
9.)    In the Replace with: box enter -----END CERTIFICATE-----
10.) Hit ‘Replace All’
11.) Remove the </CERTIFICATECHAIN> entry from the bottom of the XML file
12.) Save the file
13.) Go to a command prompt and type certutil –decode exlirm.xml output.xml (I'm using Windows 7 which has certutil installed by default)
14.) You can then open the output.xml file in notepad and see the expiry dates in the <VALIDITYTIME> tag at the beginning of the file

This will get the date you are looking for. If you want to go through the whole chain, go back into the manifest file, and remove the first -----BEGIN CERTIFICATE----- and ------END CERTIFICATE---- chunk, and run the command again. Keep doing this till you get to the last chunk. I should probably write a script to do this.

Comments (1)

  1. Anonymous says:


    I have the patch installed to our client PC, most of them works well.  However, some of them may encounter error:"This service is temporarily unavailable.  Microsoft Internet Explorer may be set to Work Offline.  In Internet Explorer, verify that Work Offline on the File menu is not selected, and then try again."

    Run IRM Check with error in "7.IRM manifests": "IRM manifests for the following applications are incorrect: Microsoft Word 2003,Microsoft Excel 2003,Microsoft PowerPoint 2003,Microsoft Outlook 2003"

    Re-installed entire Office 2003 and applied all the patch and still have same problem.

    I don’t know whether it is relevant or not, all PC have such problem are running IE8.

    Just a bit hesitate before install from scratch, do you have any ideas?


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