Outlook's clingy 'reopen last session' prompt gets the boot

It looks like you're a perpetual Office user who needs a hidden feature disabled. Would you like help?

Microsoft has issued a patch to resolve an unwanted Outlook prompt that urges users to reopen items from a previous session.

The "feature" is annoying since the option to turn it off is hidden in most editions of the perpetual version of Office. In other words, it cannot be deactivated.

Microsoft rolled the feature out as an update to its Office product. It described it in a blog post from 2020 in which it explained that should Outlook close due a system update, user action, or – heaven forbid – a crash, "you'll now be asked if you want to reopen any windows that were previously open."

Microsoft also helpfully explained how to turn the feature off since it was enabled by default.

This is all well and good unless one was a user of the perpetual version of Office, in which case the option was (more often than not) hidden once it turned up.

The problem began with version 2306 (build 16529.20154) of Office with a perpetual SKU – for example, Microsoft Office Professional Plus or Office Home and Business.

When the issue was first reported, Microsoft shared the registry keys that needed to be set to stop Outlook prompting the user to reopen previous items. This was less than ideal for administrators faced with fielding support calls from users seeking to stop the nagging.

As of last week, however, a patch that deals with the prompt has become available and brings the build number to 16827.20130.

Outlook – the email, calendar, and tasks component of Microsoft's Office suite – has long been a thorn in the sides of administrators and a boon for attackers. The veteran application is no stranger to exploits, and an unexpected pop-up from the application doubtless resulted in a few worried calls.

In this instance, however, the issue was nothing more than a feature enabled by default with no straightforward way of deactivation for users or administrators.

Unless the user was on a subscription version of Office, of course. ®

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