On December 11, some Office 2003 users discovered that they couldn't open files that included Microsoft right-management protected content. A day later, Microsoft issued a patch.
There is a hotfix for Word 2003 and one for Excel 2003 that are downloadable from Microsoft's Web site designed to fix the issue.
According to the Technologizer blog, which was first to report about the issue, some Office 2003 users were receiving the error message, “Unexpected error occurred. Please try again later or contact your system administrator,” when they were attempting to open or save protected documents. The problem did not affect Office 2007 or Office 2010 beta testers, Technologizer said. Microsoft officials attributed the problem to an Information Rights Management (IRM) certificate on Microsoft's end expiring.
Information rights management is a feature Microsoft first added to Office 2003 -- and one that's been the bane of more than a few journalists and bloggers, including yours truly. The technology allows document creators to set permissions on content so that it can't be forwarded and distributed as freely and easily. Kidding aside, many corporations -- including Microsoft -- rely on rights management to make it harder for sensitive documents to be forwarded.