back to article Facepalm time: MS Office update wipes custom Word autotext

A Microsoft Office update has pranged customised copies of Word. The upgrade for Word version 16.0.6366 renames users' Normal.dotm file. This means a new and empty Normal.dotm is created when Word is restarted after the update is applied, giving people the impression their customizations have been lost. Complaints are landing …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All together now!

    #MSFTBaaaad

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: All together now!

      Bad for firing their trustworthy computing group, yes.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: All together now!

        Bad for firing their trustworthy computing group, yes.

        Their trustworthy computing group had (as far as I can see) more to do with marketing than with anything that ever made it into production. For all the talent MS has hired, I have yet to see sense make its way into their products, which seems to suggest that the main reason MS hires talent is to deprive the competition of it.

        Have seen the presentations they did to business, government and military, and I have seen what they eventually delivered. Even banks couldn't get away with that large a gap between the two.

    2. Pompous Git Silver badge

      Re: All together now!

      #MSFTBaaaad

      Shirley you meant to type "MS did this for your convenience..."

      1. alisonken1
        Joke

        Re: All together now!

        And don't call me Shirley!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is Word 97 safe?

    That's what I have on my windows 10 machine

    1. Preston Munchensonton
      Coat

      Re: Is Word 97 safe?

      Is your Windows 10 machine disconnected from all networks? If so, your Word 97 is safe (for now.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    May I suggest, it's disappearing...

    because you are deleting it, a thankyou.

  4. kryptylomese
    1. caffeine addict

      I think you'll find that's what they're doing/failing at the moment...

    2. P. Lee Silver badge
      Devil

      > UAT?

      That job has been outsourced to you.

  5. Lee D Silver badge

    Wonder if someone captured their MSI and forgot to remove their personal cruft from it... Because I can't think of a single reason why a Windows update would touch Normal.dotm deep in a user folder.

    Once had something similar where I ran "discover" to create an MSI and left some temporary setup files in the downloads folder. Tested, it worked. Tested on other machines, it worked. Pushed out to a handful of users via group policy, it worked. Rolled it out - suddenly everyone was pushing a 100Mb setup executable back to their profiles...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Because I can't think of a single reason why a Windows update would touch Normal.dotm deep in a user folder."

    Creating another W10 forced upgrade route to evade the published blocks?

    1. Geoffrey W

      How would doing this in a windows 10 security patch on a windows 10 machine help create a forced upgrade route to windows 10? Your logic amazes me, Grasshopper; Tell me more...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Grasshopper; Tell me more..."

        Normal.dotm has the capability of executing VB macros when it is loaded. Therefore it is a potential vehicle for viruses. Whether it is technically possible for an MS update to effect such a change is open to debate. Given the way they have abused the update system recently to override user rejection of W10 upgrade functions - then I would not be surprised at any exploit they used to achieve their ends.

        https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/291352

        1. Geoffrey W

          I think you're missing my point. The story is about a windows 10 security patch so there is no rejection of windows 10 involved. If this happened to you then you already have windows 10 installed.

          Now, if this also happens to other versions of windows then your theory just *Might* have some vague possibilities, though as yet totally unproven, but until it does happen on a non windows 10 machine then its just making up shit.

          And anyway, its about renaming the existing normal.dotm so that it reverts to the system default. How on earth is that an attack vector? Your logic still evades me.

  7. Flywheel Silver badge

    "So far it seems to be copies of Word 2016"

    Phew! Lucky it's still 2015 then. Thankfully my copy of edlin doesn't have such problems.

    1. Robert Moore

      EDLIN

      > Thankfully my copy of edlin doesn't have such problems

      That you know of. :)

    2. herman Silver badge

      Edlin is for wussies. Ed is the standard.

      About 30 years ago, I had to edit a file with ed and I'll never forget it.

      1. jrd

        Ah, good old ed - once learned, never forgotten. I still use it occasionally (in scripts).

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bing back the Lotus 123 suite..

    1. Amorous Cowherder
      Headmaster

      Hold on there bub

      Lotus 123 wasn't a suite, it was a single application. Lotus Symphony was a suite...well, of sorts.

      The only problem you'll have with your copy of Lotus 123 is finding a floppy drive so you can enable the copy protection. 123 had copy protection on the floppy, you have "install" the copy protection from the floppy to the HD copy in order to run it. Then "deinstall" to put it back to the floppy. I had a little bit of a pocket money earner at college, ripping out copy protection from software that my fellow students wanted to share among themselves back in the late 1980s.

      1. Pompous Git Silver badge

        Re: Hold on there bub

        The only problem you'll have with your copy of Lotus 123 is finding a floppy drive so you can enable the copy protection.

        And hope you haven't run over the limit of five* installs.

        * IIRC it was five.

      2. Timbo

        Re: Hold on there bub

        "Lotus 123 wasn't a suite, it was a single application. "

        I couldn't afford Lotus 1-2-3, so I ended up using "As-Easy-As", a shareware spreadsheet that could read/write various wk* files.

        When, eventually, I got hold of 1-2-3, I found I still preferred A-E-A !!

        Just my 2c :)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      About 7 years ago...

      I saw a Lotus 123 Suite floppy disc collection all boxed and pristine in a charity shop.

      They wanted £50 for it though, so I passed it up.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: About 7 years ago...

        That's an expensive door-stop.

  9. hplasm
    Coat

    Gone!

    The last feeble excuse for using Word over OO or LO!

    1. Geoffrey W

      Re: Gone!

      Look, I'm not a fan of MS Office and haven't used it for many a decade, but how does this glitch make you want to stop using it if you hadn't already reached that point? The story says it renames the file - Can't you just rename it back again or something? I dunno, maybe that's not possible and I have no way of knowing since I use neither windows 10 nor Office, but, FFS!

  10. gollux
    Facepalm

    Microsoft patch quality just keeps getting better over time! And now you don't have to worry whether they got applied or not, they will automatically be installed for you. All praise Microsoft for making computing a better and more efficient part of our lives!

  11. Luke Leigh

    If you don't like things that microsoft are doing perhaps you should watch this - https://youtu.be/u1kGMCfb2xw

    Ignoring your privacy settings and turning your pc into a P2P server is even more devious!

    Windows 10 is not free, it is stealing your data!

  12. Leeroy

    It's coming

    I can see a time when we have most machines air gapped with just a few connected to 'the net' you know so you can Google the exploit or fix you were exposed to last week, month,year etc.

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: It's coming

      I can see a time when we have most machines air gapped

      Oh, good. We're running/we've run out of* IPV4 addresses anyway, so people keeping their stuff off the 'net should help.

      * depending on what you read

  13. nkuk

    And Microsoft wonders why the adoption of Windows 10 is less than they hoped

    Yet another in a long list of examples of why forced updates are a stupid idea, and why I'm avoiding Windows 10 like the plague.

    The description of the KB is simply "This update offers improved functionality for Windows 10 Version 1511." Goodness knows what they're installing as "improved functionality" and what applications they are impacting. Lack of transparency has lost my trust in Windows Updates.

  14. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Joke

    You will obey

    Otherwise we will EXTERMINATE your customised files.

    If I could have a coat icon as well as the joke one, the coat would have a sink plunger in the pocket.

  15. CrosscutSaw

    Cluster fakk

    Everything about Win10 is crap from privacy to patching.

    Why, MS, WHYYYYYY?

    I have stopped recommending Win10 to any of my friends/clients.

    I never thought I'd tell someone that if they want a MacBook they should get one instead. I've been doing that.

    Wow.

    1. Geoffrey W

      Re: Cluster fakk

      RE: "I never thought I'd tell someone that if they want a MacBook they should get one instead"

      Huh? If they want a MacBook they should get a MacBook instead? Good advice.

      1. CrosscutSaw

        Re: Cluster fakk

        LOL Geoff.. .that was a poorly written sentence on my part.

        I meant when they were trying to decide between a pc or an Apple box.

        I've always leaned towards PCs for my recommendations, but now leaning the other way.

        My post was a cluster fakk too, but that's what I meant haha.

  16. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    Maybe ...

    Maybe Microsoft is deliberately upsetting everyone who is marginally computer literate (such as being able to make custom initialisation scripts etc.) That way they'll all bugger off to a different OS, and Microsoft can have a field day conning the people who remain into buying expensive service contracts - because there will no longer be a neighbour/sibling/son who knows enough about Widows to assist them.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Maybe ...

      I think you might be onto something. Pretty soon, there won't be any critics left using Windows.. then what? Profit? Less headaches from the critics? MS running amok with all the data they've downloaded? It boggles the mind to think of what they might do.

      1. Geoffrey W

        Re: Maybe ...

        @ mark 85

        My minds boggling trying to work out if you're being serious. I think the trolls are now starting to troll themselves.

    2. Pompous Git Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Maybe ...

      there will no longer be a neighbour/sibling/son who knows enough about Widows to assist them.

      Really? There are people out there who don't know that widows are women whose husbands have died? Bet they're all Merkins ;-)

      1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: Widows

        I used to advocate protecting against Widows... orphans too...

        Nowadays nobody seems to care anymore.

    3. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: Maybe ...

      @Cynic 999 - If so, I would say it is an incredibly stupid strategy when the unwashed masses really do not need a specific OS or application set. If the technically literate migrate to Linux for example, they can assist their family and friends in their migration. Would you trust family member who has been running Linux for about a year or so successfully when they suggest Linux?

      My take is W10 will have poor market traction and in a couple of years there will a noticeable uptick to Linux/BSD/Apple as people evaluate their options and get advice from their informal IT department.

      1. Esme

        Re: Maybe ...

        'sall ready happening. I'm responsible for 4 newcomers (at their request, I hasten to add. I'm not evangelical about it, it's just that a sizable minority of the non-IT literate also seem to be dead upset with MS of late) to Penguin Territory in the last few months, as against only about 8 in total in the preceding 8 years.

  17. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    At last...

    Training people on word processors I never really found an elegant way for users using Word to edit and overwrite NORMAL.DOT as it was in use at the time, and/or in a place that you had to remember to look for before you started the edit.

    1. Pompous Git Silver badge

      Re: At last...

      I never really found an elegant way for users using Word to edit and overwrite NORMAL.DOT

      One of the very few things they got right with Word 2010 and later.

      https://support.office.com/en-ca/article/Change-the-Normal-template-Normal-dotm-06de294b-d216-47f6-ab77-ccb5166f98ea

  18. pisquee

    Nothing to do with Word, but after restarting from this update going on, my mobile broadband card (internal pci-e thing) no longer works. Uninstalling the update doesn't change things, and I didn't have system restore points set to roll back to - have to wait 'til back at base now to see if I can get it working again.

  19. Neoc

    Reset defaults

    Don't know about the Word debacle - but the latest round of "updates" reset all my defaults to MS-preferred ones.

    Again.

    After people complained about it the last time they did an "update".

    I think I'm going to set all of my 'net connections to "metered" and stop the updates altogether.

  20. Kev99

    I'm not surprised. Don't you now Microsoft knows far better than you puny users what you need and how you want to do things. How dare you try to usurp the Great & Mighty Oz.

  21. Kev99

    I'm not surprised. Don't you know Microsoft knows far better than you puny users what you need and how you want to do things. How dare you try to usurp the Great & Mighty Oz.

  22. Captain DaFt

    Getting nostalgic here

    Remember the good ol' days when we only joked about Windows being malware?

  23. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Work around: simply enter your tardis ...

  24. Winkypop Silver badge
    Devil

    "You appear to be typing a letter"

    Good luck with that! - Clippy

  25. BongoJoe
    Windows

    macros or even VBA

    To be fair, one shouldn't keep production VBA in normal.dot -- the code should be in a separate template which should be held in Word's start-up folder.

    Keeping code in normal.dot is not a clever thing to do at all. However, this doesn't change the issue in any way that Microsoft shouldn't be messing with the user's own data.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    restore from backup

    So your Normal.dotm got splatted. No problem get the old one back from a recent backup.

    I just love the expression on a user's face when I say "easy: just restore from backup", they know they should have one, I know they can't be bothered and they dare not admit that.

  27. Al fazed
    Thumb Up

    All together now!

    HA! HA! HA!,no stoppit, pleeeeease .............

  28. ApatheticPlatypus
    Pint

    Fuss?

    Personally I don't see what all the fuss is about, they obviously already have everyone's data, why don't the just autorestore the documents they overwrote/deleted from the cloud? Honestly can't believe nobody thought of it - or maybe they have and I'm too lazy to read all the comments ;)

  29. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    Every time I read something like this on El Reg I feell a little less bad about the fact that my employer makes me use Office 2003 on a XP box.

  30. Ron007

    MS published a fix

    MS has now published a KB article to fix this problem:

    https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3129969

    Short form: Fortunately the file is still there, so all you have to do is rename it back.

    Would you please append the link to the end of the article so people can find it more easily.

    PS: if people have questions about MS products, they can go to the MS sponsored http://answers.microsoft.com forum. Most of the people providing answers are NOT MS employees, they are unpaid volunteers with "real world" experience, often with the problem you are having.

    Rohn MVP

    1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: MS published a fix

      16 steps to do this, with an IF THEN LOOP embedded? (They cheated by starting again at 1: twice, and I have glossed over step 2 being a three step operation).

      I thought that newer operating systems would be easier to use for the layman? Isn't that the objective, No?

      Pedant Note: Step 6 will IMO only work the first time this happens. The next time it occurs you will already have a file called NormalBeforeRestore.dotm. The instructions need to say:-

      Rename the Normal.dotm file to NormalBeforeRestore <X>.dotm

      Where <X> is a positive integer starting at 1 and incrementing towards infinity, until you find a file that does not give you the error message "Error, file NormalBeforeRestore <X>.dotm already exists"

      Ken FPOWM

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