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Should you trust Microsoft Office Updates?

Should you trust Office patches from Microsoft or not?  Is it safe to allow automatic updating of Microsoft Office?  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. has been writing about problems with updating and patching Office for over 20 years. Microsoft won’t admit it, but buggy patches haves been an ongoing difficulty, In fact, they’ll firmly deny it despite their past history

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

On the other hand, Microsoft has vast resources to test software before release. However, that advantage has been eroded by cost-cutting via staff cuts, an over-reliance on automation and an unwillingness to admit errors.

Worse for Microsoft 365 consumer customers

Buggy updates are worse for Microsoft 365 consumer (Personal or Family) customers because they have no choice except monthly updates. Businesses, organizations and education customers have more control (via their IT admins) over how often their Microsoft 365 apps are updated.

Not only do those updates have security and software bug fixes, Microsoft 365 often includes new or changed features. Many customers want stability and reliability more than innovation, but don’t bother trying to convince Microsoft of that.

“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 now a recall or replace option in the update process.  A buggy or questionable patch can now be recalled, replaced or even delayed. Sadly, that doesn’t happen often enough because of Microsoft’s in-built reluctance to admit there’s a problem.

We’ve seen cases where known buggy updates continue to be pushed out to unsuspecting customers, apparently because the company is unwilling to ‘fess up’.

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

Microsoft’s arrogance cycle

In over twenty years of writing about Microsoft Office and Windows we’ve learnt one constant is Microsoft’s capacity for self-delusion.

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

After a run of problems, Microsoft staff put extra effort into checking the updates before they go out to customers. The buggy patches go away … but only 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 their own staff as well as 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.

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