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Windows 7: Error 0x80000003, Outlook + Word won't open

04 Oct 2015   #1

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
Error 0x80000003, Outlook + Word won't open

I am writing in search of help. Two days ago, everything was working OK until I switched off my PC. The following morning, Outlook would not open.

I am running a fully-patched and updated installation of Windows 7 Ultimate x64 with Office 2010, Adobe Acrobat XI and various other software. My machine has downloaded Windows 10 but I haven't installed it yet. I have a 256GB Samsung SSD as boot drive with ample free space (67GB); this has Windows 7, Office 2010, iTunes and a few other programs. Most software, and all data, are on two 1TB WD Caviar Black HDDs set up as RAID-1. I am not overclocking anything.

- Outlook 2010, Word 2010 and Powerpoint 2010 will not start. IE 11 starts and then fails after 2 seconds.
- Adobe Acrobat XI Pro will not start
- Adobe Reader XI will not start

In each case I get the message: "The application was unable to start correctly (0x80000003). Click OK to close the application."

However the following programs DO open and run:

- Excel 2010, OneNote 2013, OneNote 2010 - so SOME Microsoft software works
- Chrome, Quicken, Dragon Naturally Speaking, iTunes - all of these work.

I have already run chkdsk /f on the SSD and HDDs including scanning and attempting to repair bad sectors on the HDDs. When I ran chkdsk /f (including repair of bad sectors) on the HDD's the output said it found no problems. I don't know whether chkdsk works on HDDs that are set up as RAID-1.

I also ran SFC /SCANNOW and it found nothing was wrong.

What do you think the problem is, and how can I fix it please? This is not an Office 2010 problem, it is a Windows 7 problem.

Do I need to reinstall Windows? I hope not.

If I installed Windows 10, would this problem go away?

Thank you very much for your attention and expert knowledge! I appreciate your willingness to help.

Attached Files
File Type: zip (1.74 MB, 3 views)
My System SpecsSystem Spec
05 Oct 2015   #2

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
problem involves EMET and Caller mitigation

Something I found online pointed me to EMET, which I have run since April 2014.
I opened EMET (ver. 4.1) and disabled all mitigations for Winword and Outlook. When I did that, Outlook and Word opened with no problem! I didn't disable any mitigations for Acrobat or Reader, and they continued to refuse to open and gave me the same old 0x80000003 error message.

I then uninstalled EMET 4.1 entirely. Word, Outlook, Acrobat Reader and Acrobat Pro XI worked again. Powerpoint worked.

I then installed EMET 5.2 with the settings recommended by Microsoft. When I tried again, Outlook, Winword, Powerpoint and Adobe Reader half-opened, but EMET blocked them from fully opening because it detected Caller mitigation.
EMET did not block Excel or Acrobat XI Pro -- both of those work.

The user guide for EMET 5.2 says about Caller checks that "EMET makes sure that when a critical function is reached, it is reached via a CALL instruction rather than a RET instruction. This is a very useful mitigation and breaks many ROP gadgets. This mitigation may be incompatible with some applications. This mitigation is available for 32 bit processes." ROP is "an exploitation technique that facilitates the execution of code when mitigations like the Data Execution Prevention are in place".

So I disabled the EMET ROP Caller check. Outlook, Word, Powerpoint and Adobe Reader open, so the "won't open" problem is solved.

But the EMET ROP Caller Check exists for a good reason. Also, if EMET is finding Caller mitigation in my software, does this mean someone out there has put backdoors in my software? Should I reinstall the software fresh? I may still have a problem, but a different problem.

Sysop, you are welcome to move this thread if it is in the wrong place.

For AV, I am running Norton Internet Security (including firewall) plus MalwareBytes Pro.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
05 Oct 2015   #3

Windows 10 Workstation x64

Why have you posted this in the BSOD section - are you getting a BSOD with this?
My System SpecsSystem Spec

05 Oct 2015   #4

Windows 7 Ultimate x64

I apologize. I posted this in the BSOD section because my problem was with the mysterious error message, and all of the other posts on this error message were in the BSOD section. I couldn't find any other place to post this.

If there is somewhere else on Sevenforums that is more appropriate, I will repost it there. It seems not to be possible to move a post. Thank you.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Error 0x80000003, Outlook + Word won't open

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