Can you trust Office Updates?

Occasionally we’re asked. Should we trust Office patches from Microsoft or not?   Why do buggy patches keep happening?

There’s no simple answer.  It depends on your level of trust in Microsoft and the amount of time you’re prepared to spend manually checking and installing patches.

Office-watch.com has been writing about problems with updating and patching Office for over 20 years. It’s been an ongoing difficulty for Microsoft, not that the company would admit it.  In fact, they’ll firmly deny it despite of their past history.

Office is very complicated software.  Fixing bugs without causing yet more trouble isn’t easy. Sadly, Microsoft’s policies don’t acknowledge that difficulty or the inevitable problems that will arise from time to time.

Trust us

Microsoft wants us to trust them completely and let them automatically patch and update Office automatically.

It’s a fine idea based on the false notion that the bug fixes themselves are bug free! There have been some cases of faulty updates which cause more even trouble.

Buggy patches are made worse by Microsoft’s reluctance to admit their mistake. It takes too long for Microsoft to publicly and properly warn about a buggy patch. Instead they rely on vague unofficial comments in forums or total silence until they can sneak in a fix.

There’s no recall or replace option in the update process.  It seem that a buggy or questionable patch can’t be recalled, replaced or even delayed. We’ve seen cases where known buggy updates continue to be pushed out to unsuspecting customers, apparently because there’s no simple way to stop it!

Not fully acknowledging a buggy patch has consequences beyond wasting customers time and money

Microsoft’s arrogance cycle

Buggy patches seem to come in groups, possibly because of complacency inside Microsoft.

Microsoft staff then put extra effort into checking the updates before they go out to customers. The buggy patches go away, for a while.

Eventually the memory of past mistakes fades and complacency returns. It’s easy for Microsofties to forget the past because the company ruthlessly buries any bad news to staff and customers.

Eventually, a buggy patch or two appears.  Microsoft staff talk as if this has never happened before and might honestly believe that. And so the cycle continues.

We let Office update automatically.  It’s not ideal but the alternative is to prevent updating completely then waste a lot of time forensically going through KB articles and forums to identify any buggy patches.  The time taken compared to the relatively small risk isn’t worth it.