Office program errors when DisableThemes is configured in the __COMPAT_LAYER environment variable

Original KB number:   3028123

Symptoms

Consider the following scenario when you are running Windows 7 or Windows 8.

  • In Microsoft Word, when you attempt to open a document or save as, nothing appears to happen.

  • In Microsoft Excel, when you attempt to open a spreadsheet or save as, nothing appears to happen.

  • In Microsoft PowerPoint, when you attempt to open a presentation or save as, you receive the following error:

    An error occurred while opening the file dialog. Please save your presentations, exit, and then restart PowerPoint.

    PPT error

  • In Microsoft Outlook:

    • You click Save As with an email message and you receive the following error:

      The server is not available. Contact your administrator if this condition persists.

    • You click Open Calendar or Open Outlook Data File on the Backstage and receive the following error:

      The server is not available. Contact your administrator if this condition persists.

      Outlook error

Cause

These problems occur when you have the __COMPAT_LAYER environment variable and its value contains DisableThemes. This is shown in the following figure.

DisableThemes value in the __COMPAT_LAYER environment variable

Resolution

To resolve this problem, remove the __COMPAT_LAYER System variable from Environment Variables.

  1. Exit all Office programs.
  2. Open Advanced System settings.
    • Windows 7:
      1. Click Start, right-click Computer, and then click Properties.
      2. Click Advanced system settings in the left pane.
    • Windows 8:
      1. Right-click the Windows icon, and then click System.
      2. Click Advanced system settings in the left pane.
  3. On the Advanced tab, click Environment Variables.
  4. Under System variables, select __COMPAT_LAYER, and then click Delete.
  5. Start your Office program(s).