Microsoft updated the Office Configuration Analyzer Tool to version 2.1 in late July and I happened to have an individual contact me about Outlook issues recently. It seemed like a great opportunity to test the updated tool out.
The Office Configuration Analyzer Tool, frequently referred to as OffCAT, allows you to select a Microsoft Office Product and check it for common problems. The recent update added Skype for Business while v2 added OneDrive for Business. OffCAT can be run on supported operating systems (Vista/Server 2008 and newer) against supported Office versions (Office 2007 and newer). It requires that the .NET Framework 4.5 be installed.
With those basic requirements met, you can download OffCAT 2.1 for free from Microsoft and install the .msi file on the computer you wish to scan. This presents you with an application with a clear interface to scan current applications including Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Word, Access, Skype for Business, OneDrive for Business, InfoPath, OneNote, and Publisher. You may also review previous scans and view options or advanced tools available. One such advanced tool is the Outlook real-time analyzer which can help diagnose certain problems with Outlook as they are happening to gain more information.
The client I was investigating was having certain errors pop up about Outlook being unable to stay connected to Office 365. While no other clients were reporting the issue at the time, it seemed like it might be a client-side issue. I started with the standard troubleshooting of creating a new profile in Outlook and trying a repair of Outlook. After neither of those solved the issue, I turned to OffCAT for more information about what might be wrong with the installation.
I installed and ran OffCat, selecting to scan Outlook for any issues. The scan commenced and ran through a variety of checks including Updates, Add-ins, Group Policies, crash reports, and other elements contributing to a complex modern program. OffCAT found two critical errors and some other warnings of things to investigate. The errors were a little difficult to follow-up on. While one provided a simple link to download the missing update, the other had a hotfix available which required providing an email address and downloading from an emailed URL. Upon trying to run the update, it told me it was already installed and on running the hotfix it errored out saying that there was no applicable product to update.
While the exact errors might have led me down the wrong path, OffCAT still referred to Lync instead of ‘Skype for Business’. That led me to investigate if there was an issue with the integration of Skype for Business since it still thought Lync should be installed. I headed to the Control Panel and performed a ‘Change’ on Office 2013 where I removed the Skype for Business component. As the user does not use Skype for Business, I did not reinstall it. Upon launching the previously problematic Outlook, it was significantly faster at running and did not have the slow-down when using the application. (The slow-down would eventually return the next day and a full uninstall/reinstall of Office 2013 and re-update has solved the issue permanently.)
OffCAT has a command-line version that can be run and used in scripts to check entire networks worth of computers. This can be useful to monitor your organization and proactively address problems for KMS activations, Updates issues, or old versions of Office. You can also use Group Policy Preferences to set OffCAT Registry keys to determine specific values such as the save location for scans. Those settings are detailed in a 120-page Readme Word Document which is available for download along with the OffCAT .msi installer at the Microsoft Download Center.
OffCAT is designed for troubleshooting particular issues with Office misconfigurations. It might not fare too well with the ambiguous issues like the one this client presented me with but it provides some additional information that might help out with your diagnoses. I’m looking forward to the next update which will support Office 2016 and hopefully only get better and tracking down problems and providing details about the Office installation.