Office Update Torture!!!

Note to Insomniacs: While this is not the best posting to take you to your first REM stage, it’s not the worst either. Remember, any of my postings read dozens of times may do the trick. And as always, good luck to you.

It’s a common situation. A user installs Office 2007 or 2010, and declines the “Update Office” option. And who wouldn’t. If you click OK, it commences to ask for your MS account login, or offers to help the user create one. For God’s sake! Either offer a simple pathway to updates, or don’t even ask.

Yet later (sometimes years later and sometimes the same day), many users decide that getting updates is a good idea after all. Perhaps the updates fix a critical bug, or maybe they are spooked by security issues.

So said users go into Control Panel and click on Windows Updates and then Change Settings. They see the screen shown below, with no mention of Office. They usually click on Recommended Updates, because there’s no other option.

screen 0

Then they run updates. Unfortunately, there’s no “lo and behold” here. The Office updates do not appear.

So they do some research, and learn on the Internet that the right way to do this is to open Word, click on the big Office Button, click on Word Options and then click on Resources. That brings up the following screen.

screen 1

Then the user is told to click on the top button labeled “Check for Updates”. From that point on, all the Internet web sites go on to say what to do on the next menu, which looks like this. This is the point where Internet Explorer is started from the Word option chosen above.

screen 3

Then said user clicks on the “Agree” check box (of course). From there, it’s pretty intuitive. As an added bonus, this screen does not ask you to create an account or sign in.

But sometimes the user gets a screen in Internet Explorer that looks like this instead of the screen shown above.

screen 2

This is telling the person in front of the screen to use Windows Update. That’s it. It’s basically just saying to use Windows Update. Typical users, thinking they must have made a mistake, actually go back to Windows Updates and MS Word and try again. After several times going around in circles, and having finally run out of patience, they research this problem and get all kinds of advice including reinstalling Office, reloading Windows, making registry changes, checking for viruses, etc. Some poor souls take this advice only to discover hours later that it didn’t work.

Note and Reader Exercise: Reloading Windows might work depending on what the user does after the reload. Read the rest of this post and then try to figure out why it *might* work (in fact probably will work). But reloading is a huge waste of time. The poor saps who do it (and for whom it works) are going to think that was the solution. Not so.

The correct and simplest solution is rarely mentioned, even from the Microsoft Tech Forums. An aside: I’m convinced the MS MVPs (Microsoft Most Valuable Professional) who sometimes answer aren’t really people at all but are just a poor and imperfect implementation of AI. That’s for another posting.

This circular behavior happens whenever IE is not the default browser. Make IE the default browser (if only temporarily) and then try again. Then the proper screens will appear.

This posting describes the update procedure for Windows 7. Enabling updates for Office in Windows XP is somewhat different. It’s mostly done thru the web browser after an extension has been added. But again, I think IE has to be your default browser.

The question is why Microsoft would take innocent end users, run them around in circles and even ruin their day instead of politely telling them to change their default browser to IE? It couldn’t be a slap in the face for daring to use another browser, could it? Nah…

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