Microsoft swears it's not coming for your data with scan for old Office versions

Microsoft wants everyone to know that it isn't looking to invade their privacy while looking through their Windows PCs to find out-of-date versions of Office software.

In its KB5021751 update last month, Microsoft included a plan to scan Windows systems to smoke out those Office versions that are no longer supported or nearing the end of support. Those include Office 2007 (which saw support end in 2017) and Office 2010 (in 2020) and the 2013 build (this coming April).

The company stressed that it would run only one time and would not install anything on the user's Windows system, adding that the file for the update is scanned to ensure it's not infected by malware and is stored on highly secure servers to prevent unauthorized changes to it.

The update caused some discussion among users, at least enough to convince Microsoft to make another pitch that it is respecting user privacy and won't access private data despite scanning their systems.

The update collects diagnostic and performance data so that it can determine the use of various versions of Office and how to best support and service them, the software maker wrote in an expanded note this week. The update will silently run once to collect the data and no files are left on the user's systems once the scan is completed.

"This data is gathered from registry entries and APIs," it wrote. "The update does not gather licensing details, customer content, or data about non-Microsoft products. Microsoft values, protects, and defends privacy."

Microsoft then gives a link to the company's privacy page for further reading.

The more detailed explanation tries to address some of the shortcomings of the original update notice that we detailed, including how it will gather the information regarding the Office versions being run, any other system information being collected via the update, and if anything is left behind after the update is completed.

Microsoft is delivering the update to users who have opted to receive updates for its products and who have Office 2007, 2010, or 2013 installed. Users who are squeamish about this scan can download the Show or Hide Updates troubleshooter for Windows 10 and 11, which along with disabling updates that repeatedly fail to install or are causing other problems.

Users won't have to restart their systems after the update is installed, according to Redmond. ®

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