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Microsoft is distributing a strange Office update: Please count once


The Windows group distributes an update that isn't one. Instead of bringing new features or fixing bugs, the software only runs once - for an unusual purpose.

Enlarge image

Office presentation in June 2010: Microsoft wants to know how many people are still using it

Photo: Jason DeCrow/ AFP

The current Office update with the designation KB5021751 clearly shows how far apart visions of the future and the present sometimes differ in the IT industry.

On the one hand, Microsoft is investing billions in the research company OpenAI, which has made artificial intelligence a topic everyone wants to have a say in with projects like the image generator DALL-E 2 and the text bot ChatGPT.

On the other hand, the group is trying to find out in an extremely unusual way how many old versions of its office software Office are still in circulation.

A few days ago, with an inconspicuous text on the support pages for the office software Microsoft 365, formerly known as Office 365, the group announced an update that is not an update.

After all, the purpose of updates is to add new functions to programs, to close security gaps or to fix programming errors.

KB5021751 does none of this.

Installed and yet not installed

Instead, as Microsoft's info text reads, the software is intended to "help Microsoft identify the number of users who no longer support (or will soon no longer support) versions of Office, including Office 2013, Office 2010, and Office 2007«.

The text, apparently machine-translated from English, is said to say: The supposed update is intended to count how many outdated or soon to be outdated Office programs for which the company no longer offers support are still in use.

more on the subject

Investments in artificial intelligence: Microsoft's billion-dollar bet on the futureAn analysis by Patrick Beuth

The software only "runs once in the background without having to install anything on the user's device."

And that you don't have to "reboot your computer after installing this update."

Why should one, if, as it is said before, nothing is installed?

In the very next paragraph, however, the text contradicts itself when it says that you should use Microsoft Update "to automatically download and install the update".

All for sure

In order to animate users to the completely meaningless update despite these contradictions, the article also points out that “the latest software for virus detection” was used “that was available at the time it was made available”.

In addition, the file is "on servers with enhanced security."

Well then nothing can go wrong.

Except when the targeted users simply don't download the update and thus make Microsoft's Office count wasteful.

Source: spiegel

All tech articles on 2023-01-24

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