Microsoft: Outlook desktop app crashing due to missing identity setting

A new Windows esport event: Opening Outlook

Outlook sometimes goes wrong and even Microsoft occasionally can't work out why, judging by a freshly published Microsoft 365 support article.

The article is related to that most common of Outlook (Desktop) ailments: "Outlook closes shortly after it is opened." In our experience, the problem tends to be accompanied by a terse message box saying something bad has happened or a simple abrupt disappearance of the UI.

In this instance, the scenario is: "When you start Outlook Desktop, it gets past loading profile and processing, briefly opens, and then stops responding," according to Microsoft.

So far, so not particularly unusual. After all, occasional instability is expected with Outlook. However, in this instance, Microsoft has provided additional details that can be checked through the Windows Event View Application to confirm that this particular problem is being caused by a blank Registry setting.

In this case, the EmailAddress setting in the Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Office\16.0\Common\Identity\Identities. This should be set to the identity of the user but if it is blank, Outlook appears to react with all the resilience of jelly under a hiking boot.

"We do not know why the EmailAddress key is not being set properly," said Microsoft. It's something that should be set by the Office application and the preferred route to resolution is to sign out of Office and sign back in again in order to repopulate the identity settings. A turn-it-off-and-turn-it-on-again approach to matters.

If that fails, Microsoft suggests a Registry change to turn off Support Diagnostics (apparently the option to submit an in-App ticket using Help and Contact Support leads to a path that could stop Outlook responding). Still no luck? Then perhaps manually set the email address, although Microsoft didn't sound too hopeful about the solution, saying users "can try" the approach.

The Outlook team is looking into the issue. In the meantime, we thought we were joking when we suggested Competitive Outlook as a companion to the Excel All-Stars esports event. Perhaps reality is catching up. Round 1: Opening Outlook without it crashing. ®

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