The time is right to update Windows and Office

www.office.com/setup Blogs: If you’ve been blocking automatic updates, the coast is now reasonably clear to apply Microsoft’s November patches

www.office.com/setup Blogs: November has been a relatively beneficent month for Microsoft patches. For almost all of you, it’s now time to get those blocked Windows and Office patches applied.To be sure, there are still problems with the patches, including a long list of issues with the KB 300970 Win10 Anniversary Update (version 1607) cumulative update over on the TechNet forum. But most are variations on the perennial “cumulative update won’t install” theme. On Reddit, the KB 3200970 thread reveals lots of small bumps but no major roadblocks.

On the Office side, there’s a formidable list of patches—including several fixes for bugs introduced by earlier patches—but I haven’t seen any major problems with the November crop.

Accordingly, if you have Win7 or 8.1 Automatic Update set to “Never” or “Check but don’t download,” it’s time to get your system patched. If you have Win10 and you followed one of the many paths to blocking forced updates, now would be a good time to release the blocks and let Windows Update do its thing.

Those of you who haven’t updated Windows 7 or 8.1 since the patchocalypse in October need to decide if you’re in Group A (those who will take all the changes Microsoft has to offer, telemetry-laden or not) or in Group B (you only want security updates).

Once you’ve made that decision, follow the steps outlined in “How to cautiously update Windows 7 and 8.1 machines.” (Be aware that article is more than a little controversial. You can see much of the debate on AskWoody.com.)

For those in Group B, the update you want from the Microsoft Catalog is as follows:

Visit www.office.com/setup Blogs

Microsoft releases nonsecurity patches for Office 2016, 2013, Click-to-Run

www.office.com/setup Blogs: After a bobbling start, the patches are available in Windows Update and WSUS

www.office.com/setup Blogs: Yesterday, in keeping with the usual first-Tuesday-of-the-month cadence, Microsoft released 12 nonsecurity patches for Office 2013, 19 nonsecurity patches for Office 2016, and a new build 7571.2072 for the current channel (version 1611) of Office 365 Click-to-Run.

There was some confusion at first, as the patches appeared in some parts of the world and not in others — or even appeared, then disappeared, then reappeared in some cases — but at this point, it looks like Windows Update and WSUS are seeing all of the patches.

The full TechNet list offers links to all of the KB articles. The Office 365 client update Current Channel list shows more than 50 nonsecurity updates and minor feature updates for Office Click-to-Run version 1611, including dozens of fixes for bugs in Skype for Business.

It’s still much too early to tell if there are any major problems with the patches.

On AskWoody, ch100 reports that the buggy Oct. 4 update for Excel 2016, KB 3118373, which was pulled on Oct. 8, has finally been expired in WSUS. That’s the Excel “halt and catch fire” bug described in my Oct. 12 Woody on Windows post. Excel users were given instructions for manually removing the buggy patch. It’s completely gone now.

Visit More: www.office.com/setup

Update now! Microsoft unloads Windows and Office patches for March

www.office.com/setup Blogs: With the most egregious bugs out of the way, now’s a good time to get caught up on Microsoft‘s latest batch of fixes
March may not be T.S. Eliot’s cruelest month, but for Windows and Office customers, it was a doozy.

www.office.com/setup Blogs: While the February patches went in with little angst, you should be very cautious about how you patch this time around. And with the Creators Update poised to strike in less than two weeks, now’s a very good time to make sure your Win10 Automatic Updates are defanged.

[ The essentials for Windows 10 installation: Download the Windows 10 Installation Superguide today. | Stay up on key Microsoft technologies with the Windows Report newsletter. ]
Here’s a recap of the big bugs in the March 14 Patch Tuesday emissions and the state of their fixes:

Microsoft’s Win10 cumulative updates, Win7 and 8.1 Monthly Rollups, and the cumulative Internet Explorer patch — six patches or more, depending on how you count — all broke Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM 2011 and CRM 2013 OnPremises, as well as various Telerik controls. Microsoft fixed the bugs with a slew of revised patches released nine days later. In the interim, those of you with Dynamics CRM 2011 had to deal with bad reports or a byzantine series of patching instructions.
The Excel 2010 security patch KB 3178690 froze and crashed Excel 2010. Two weeks later, Microsoft fixed the botched patch with KB 3191855. Those caught by the first patch had no choice but to manually uninstall it, assuming they could figure out why Excel didn’t work.
Word 2016’s Security Update KB 3178674 makes certain kinds of characters illegible. Microsoft hasn’t fixed the problem.
The Office Click-to-Run update 7870.2024, released to the Current Channel on March 14, broke searching in Outlook, making it impossible to search for certain kinds of emails. Microsoft’s manual solution involved another byzantine series of steps. As best I can tell — the jury’s still out — the new Office C-t-R version 7870.2013, released on March 27, solves the problem, although it doesn’t undo the changes many people had to make to get search working again.
If you thought Microsoft’s worked out the problems with automatic updating, think again. Very nearly all versions of Windows and Office were hit with bad patches this month, and it took more than a week to solve most of the problems. Those stuck with automatic updating, or Win10’s proclivity to re-install everything in sight even after it’s uninstalled, was hit repeatedly.

ADVERTISING

Re-infection as a service

There’s a handful of odd updates floating around right now, but two are worthy of your attention:

The old Windows 7 and 8.1 snooping patch, KB 3150513, is back again. As I explained in my InfoWorld article last week:
As best I can tell, KB 3150513 is only useful for Windows users who want to upgrade immediately to the new Windows 10 Creators Update, which is due in a few weeks… I can’t imagine why anyone — aside from Microsoft employees and cloistered troglodytes — would install Creators Update on day one.

There’s a MediaTek Android device driver patch, “Microsoft – WPD – 2/22/2016 12:00:00 AM – 5.2.5326.4762,” that’s been re-released and apparently works this time. I don’t see any reason to install the new driver on Win7 or 8.1 machines unless you plan on directly upgrading a Win7 or 8.1 machine to Win10.
With that as preamble, here’s what I recommend:

Windows 10

Follow my tip on installing Win10 updates. You may want to use wushowhide to hide any driver updates. If you have Word 2016 and use it for Equation Editor or MathType, avoid the KB 3178674 patch. All of the other updates should be OK, including Servicing stack updates, Office, MSRT, or .Net updates (there won’t be many, and you may not see any at all). Be sure to note the recommendation in that article for reporting any problems you might encounter.

Windows 7 and 8.1

You need to choose whether you want to install the security-only updates or to get all that Microsoft has to offer, including “telemetry” patches, by using the Monthly Rollup. If you’re in Group A (the Monthly Rollup group) updating’s easy. If you’re in Group B (those who don’t want Microsoft snooping) your life’s considerably more complex. I provide details in my patchocalypse article.

For those in Group A:

Step A1: Get your settings right. In Win7, click Start > Control Panel. In Win 8.1, press Win-X and choose Control Panel. Click System and Security. Under Windows Update, click the link marked “Turn automatic updating on or off.” Make sure Windows Update is set to “Never check for updates (not recommended),” then check the boxes marked “Give me recommended updates the same way I receive important updates” and “Give me updates for Microsoft products and check for new optional Microsoft software when I update Windows.” Click OK.

Step A2: Check for updates. Back in the Control Panel, under Windows Update, click the link to Check for Updates. (You may have to click Check for Updates a second time.) If you’ve done a Group A run in previous months, the check should go quickly. If it lingers for hours, follow these steps. Don’t check any unchecked boxes.

If you have no intention of updating this machine to Win10 in the near future, look for the “Microsoft – WPD – 2/22/2016 12:00:00 AM – 5.2.5326.4762” (KB 4016754) update and if you find it (you probably won’t), uncheck the box. If you have Word 2016 and you use it for Equation Editor or MathType, uncheck the KB 3178674 patch.

Step A3: Install the patches. Click the button marked Install Updates and follow the instructions. You’ll end up with the March Monthly Rollup, all of your Office patches, maybe some .Net patches, Adobe Flash fixes, the Microsoft Security Essentials update, and the usual MSRT scanner. After the reboot, everything will be set to block automatic updates. You’re ready, but be sure to watch this column next month to see when the unpaid beta testers are done.

For those in Group B:

Step B1. Get the Security-only patches. If you want security patches only, you have to reach out and grab them, then install them manually. That’s a nontrivial task. Since the Security-only patches are not cumulative, you need to make sure you have the October, November, and December 2016 Security-only patches installed. If you use Win7, there’s also a January 2017 Security-only patch. No Security-only patches were issued for either Win7 or 8.1 in February. There’s a big jumble of KB numbers and download links involved. AskWoody AKB article 2000003, maintained by PKCano, lists them all.

This month, for the first time, there are also patches (and a hotfix!) for Internet Explorer. If you use IE, you can look forward to yet another bunch of patches that require manual installation. AKB 2000003 lists them all.

Download any patches that you haven’t yet installed, double-click on the downloaded MSU file, and let the installer run its course.

Step B2: Get your settings right. In Win7, click Start > Control Panel. In Win 8.1, press Win-X and choose Control Panel. Click System and Security. Under Windows Update, click the link marked “Turn automatic updating on or off.” Make sure Windows Update is set to “Never check for updates (not recommended),” then check the box marked “Give me updates for Microsoft products and check for new optional Microsoft software when I update Windows.” Uncheck the box marked “Give me recommended updates the same way I receive important updates” (yes, Group B is different from Group A), and click OK.

Step B3: Check for updates. Back in the Control Panel, under Windows Update, click the link to Check for Updates. (You may have to click Check for Updates a second time.) The check takes many minutes. If it takes many hours, follow these steps.

Step B4: Get rid of the Monthly Rollup. Click the links to look at the Important and Optional updates. Don’t check any unchecked boxes. If you see any entries marked Monthly Quality Rollup, uncheck the boxes; if you’re in Group B, you don’t want them. For heaven’s sake don’t ever check anything marked Preview. If you see any “Security and Quality Rollup for .Net Framework” boxes checked, leave them checked.

Step B5: Get rid of problematic updates. If you have no intention of updating this machine to Win10 in the near future, look for the “Microsoft – WPD – 2/22/2016 12:00:00 AM – 5.2.5326.4762″ (KB 4016754) update and if you find it (you probably won’t), uncheck the box. If you have Word 2016 and you use it for Equation Editor or MathType, uncheck the KB 3178674 patch.

Step B5: Install the patches. Click the button marked Install Updates and follow the instructions. You’ll end up with Office patches, .Net patches, possible Adobe Flash fixes, Security Essentials update, and the usual MSRT scanner. After the reboot, you’re done. Pat yourself on the back, and watch this column next month for the all-clear.

www.office.com/setup
www.office.com/setup
www.office.com/setup
www.office.com/setup

When does support end for… Microsoft Office 2007?

www.office.com/setup Blogs: There’s just three months before the already-extended suite goes dark — literally, in the case of Outlook 2007

www.office.com/setup Blogs: Businesses that remain wedded to Office 2007 have just over three months to drop Office 2007’s applications and switch to a newer suite, such as Office 2016.

A significant number of organizations will be affected by the deadline. According to patch management vendor Qualys, about 11% of enterprise PCs equipped with Microsoft Office include at least one component from Office 2007. The suite’s “share” was determined from more than 3 billion scans Qualys conducts annually on customers’ networks, said Jimmy Graham, Qualys’ director of product management, in an email.

Office 2007’s support expires Oct. 10. After that date, Microsoft will no longer supply patches for security vulnerabilities or fixes for other bugs, nor will it provide company-assisted technical support, whether free or paid, such as by-phone consultations or trouble-shooting.

Initially, Office 2007 support was set to end in April — at the same time Windows Vista was put to pasture — but in 2012 Microsoft extended the productivity suite’s support by six months. The reason for the extra time: a little-known provision in the company’s support policy that guarantees at least two years of “mainstream” support after the launch of a product’s successor (in this case, Office 2010).

ADVERTISING

A list of all Office 2007 components that will be retired Oct. 10 can be found in this support document on Microsoft‘s website.

[ To comment on this story, visit Computerworld’s Facebook page. ]
The applications within Office 2007 will continue to operate after support ends — with some exceptions — but companies will be taking a risk that malware exploiting a subsequently-revealed flaw might hijack devices. To receive security and non-security updates after Oct. 10, IT administrators must deploy Office 2010 or later. Not surprisingly, Microsoft recommends the Office 365 rent-not-own subscription program, and the Office 2016 applications that come with most enterprise- and business-grade plans.

In some cases, Office 2007 apps won’t work properly at all after October. The most notable of these: Outlook 2007. “As of October 31, 2017, Outlook 2007 will be unable to connect to Office 365 mailboxes, which means Outlook 2007 clients using Office 365 will not be able to receive and send mail,” Microsoft said.

Microsoft has created a sub-site specifically for Office 2007’s end of days that includes information on upgrade paths, links to detailed migration instructions, and more.

Five Outside-of-the-Box Workplace Services that Employees Will Love
BrandPost Sponsored by Espresa
Five Outside-of-the-Box Workplace Services that Employees Will Love
Truly engaging your busy employees sometimes requires creative, outside-the-box, off-the-wall offerings.
office support timelines Gregg Keizer/IDG
There are three possible Microsoft-made replacements for Office 2007, but only Office 2016 has more than 5 quarters of Mainstream support remaining.

What happens when an Office 365 subscription expires?

www.office.com/setup Blogs: Three-stage process eventually ends up with all cloud data deleted

www.office.com/setup Blogs: Microsoft‘s pay-as-you-go Office 365 is, first and foremost, a subscription. And like other subscriptions — think newspapers (remember them?) or an online storage service — missing a payment doesn’t immediately mean you’re cut off.

Because it’s less expensive to retain a current subscriber than find a new subscriber as a replacement, providers sometimes go to great lengths to keep customers on the rolls.

When a business misses an Office 365 payment, or cancels the service, the applications and data don’t immediately disappear. Instead, Microsoft steps a customer through a three-stage process that gradually decreases both employee and administrator access, but for months leaves the door open to a renewal.

Here are the stages of an Office 365 breakup.

ADVERTISING

1-30 days after subscription ends: Expired

Microsoft dubs the first stage “expired,” but it could just as well be called “grace period,” since everything works as if the customer’s payments remain up to date.

Users have normal access to all Office 365 applications and services under the company’s plan. Already-installed applications can be launched, no data will be scrubbed from Microsoft‘s servers — such as email messages or files stored on OneDrive for Business — and additional applications can be added to a user’s devices.

[ To comment on this story, visit Computerworld’s Facebook page. ]
Note: macOS versions of Office provided via an Office 365 subscription do not include the 30-day grace period; they immediately enter the “Disabled” state. See below for details.

Administrators can access all functions from the Office 365 admin center portal, including assigning licenses to new or existing employees. If the firm plans to depart Office 365, data may be backed up.

The subscription can be renewed by the global or billing administrator during this 30-day span.

31-120 days after subscription ends: Disabled

During months two through four, the subscription sits in the “disabled” state. Another label could be “admin only,” as administrators can continue to access the admin portal. The IT staff can most effectively use this period to back up employee data stored on Microsoft‘s servers. Admins cannot assign licenses to workers during the 90 days.

Users are unable to log into their Office 365 accounts and so are blocked from Office 365 services included in the plan, ranging from hosted email to OneDrive for Business. The locally-installed applications will drop into what Microsoft‘s calls “reduced functionality,” meaning that most features and tools are unavailable. Files may be opened, viewed and printed, but not edited or saved. The applications may not launch from the desktop, but they will open after clicking on an appropriate document.

A subscription can still be renewed by the global or billing administrator during this stretch.

121 days and up: Deprovisioned

At the Day 121 mark, the Office 365 subscription is not only dead, it’s really, really dead.

No one, administrators included, can access service or applications, so backing up employee data is impossible.

In fact, Microsoft will begin to delete the subscription’s data from its servers starting on this date. The company does not provide a done-by deadline, saying, “You can expect data to be permanently deleted in a reasonable timeframe after the 120 days have elapsed.” Enterprises that want data erased as soon as possible may request “expedited deprovisioning” by calling support. Microsoft will then delete the pertinent data within three days.

Global or billing admins may not restore a subscription — and thus access to the cloud-based data and the Office applications — during this period. Assuming the firm wants to continue using Office, it must purchase new Office 365 subscriptions or standalone, perpetual licenses.