Secrets & mysteries in Office for Windows updates

Microsoft’s explanations for Office bug fixes range from deliberately delayed, to duplicated through ambiguous wording to no explanation at all!

We can only hope that the bug fixes themselves were done with more care and professionalism than the documentation.

Delayed Disclosure

Microsoft has long had a policy of deliberately keeping secret known bugs in Office.  At the same time, they release the bug fix and disclose the bug publicly.  This helps Microsoft but does untold damage and cost to customers who waste time and money investigating a bug that Redmond keeps secret.

A new example of this Microsoft secrecy is  KB3127906 which includes a patch for a serious bug in all 2016 Office for Windows programs.

Opening a presentation as read-only, switching to Edit mode and saving the presentation causes PowerPoint 2016 to crash.

If you’ve had trouble with PowerPoint 2016 crashing then maybe this bug will fix the problem.  Bad luck if you’ve wasted time and effort trying to fix this.  Who knows how long Microsoft has kept this bug to themselves?

Ambigious Wording

The actual wording of the  KB3127906 bug disclosure is strange.  There’s two possible explanations for this paragraph:

  • When users open a presentation from a webpage, the presentation is opened as read-only. If users edit and then save the presentation, PowerPoint 2016 may crash. This issue also occurs in Word 2016, Excel 2016, and Visio 2016.

That could mean:

  1. The bug applies to presentations opened in PowerPoint 2016. It also applies if you open a PPT presentation within Word, Excel or Visio.

OR

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  1. The bug applies to all documents, worksheets, presentations etc opened as read-only in any of the listed Office 2016 programs. In other words, the paragraph is worded to imply that the bug is limited to PowerPoint when it’s really more widespread.

Even more ambiguous wording

If you thought that KB article was vague, have a look at KB3127905 which only says that the patch is for

” the latest fixes including stability improvements to Microsoft Office 2016.”

Which could mean anything in any of the Office 2016 for Windows programs.

‘Stability Improvements‘ is just another way of saying ‘bug fix’.

Nonexistent wording

But that KB is a model of disclosure compared to KB3118341 which has no explanation at all!  Not even a bland, meaningless sentence.  The place where an explanation would usually go is omitted.

We know the bug fix applies to OneDrive for Business with Office 2016 MSI installations – but that’s all

Same bug – two articles

Knowledge Base articles KB3118336  are KB3118338 head scratchers.  They appear to be exactly the same bug.

Both are for Microsoft Office 2016 MSI edition (not the Office 365 subscriber ‘Click to Run’ install) and both are described as:

“You can’t create a profile by using proxy AutoDetect and a named proxy simultaneously in Outlook 2016 if AutoDetect fails.”

The download patches are different – here and here so it would seem there are two different bugs being fixed.