This morning I fired up Outlook like always, only to be greeted by this oh-so-helpful error message: "Cannot start Microsoft Outlook. Unable to open the Outlook window."
This is neither the time nor place for me to complain about what a buggy, overwrought, confusing, and extremely user-hostile piece of software Outlook continues to be. That would suggest some sort of bitterness on my part.
No, I'm here to provide solutions, my friends, and that's what I've got. After some earnest troubleshooting (a.k.a. Google spelunking), I determined that this particular error was likely the result of a corrupt Outlook profile.
This is actually a pretty major problem, which is why it's so important to make regular backups. That said, I was able to recover pretty easily by making a copy of the profile, then forcing Outlook to load that copy when it started. Here's how (in Windows Vista):
1. Open the Control Panel, type view 32-bit in the search box, and then click View 32-Bit Control Panel Items.
2. Double-click Mail to bring up the Mail Setup window, then click the Show Profiles button.
3. You should see one profile called Outlook. If it's not already highlighted, click it, and then click Copy. Give the new profile a name (I called mine OutlookRick, but that's only because StupidPoopyOutlookIHateYouSoMuch was too long), then click OK.
4. Click the pulldown below Always use this profile, choose your new profile, and then click OK.
Now, with luck, you should be able to fire up Outlook and get back to work, with all your e-mail, contacts, and other data intact. The only glitch I encountered was that Outlook no longer had my auto-complete database for e-mail addresses. I'm sure there's a way to restore it, but one problem at a time.