So what was happening is that a badly behaving Word Add-in would not allow Word to shut down cleanly. I was getting the following error:
Microsoft Office Word has stopped working. This is accompanied by an event in the Application event log. Faulting application WINWORD.EXE, version 12.0.4518.1014, time stamp 0x45428028, faulting module mso.dll, version 12.0.4518.1014, time stamp 0x4542867b, exception code 0xc0000005, fault offset 0x0003977b, process id 0x228, application start time 0x01c78124f7445be7.
I had completely uninstalled and reinstalled Office Enterprise 2007 to no effect. I started word with the command switch /a which disables all add-ins. Word was able to start and shut down cleanly. Thus, having tracked it to an add-in, I began to disable all add ins. That left me with a template add-in that I could not disable. Whenever I went to the templates an add-ins menu and selected to disable this template, Word shut down with the error above. Even after uninstalling the add-in completely through Programs and Feature (on Vista), the template was “stuck” in the Add-ins dialog and bombed Word whenever I tried to disable it. At the above link, deleting the Data key in its entirety fixed the problem.