In the middle of last month, Microsoft released the KB5021751 update to help the company “identify the number of users running out-of-support (or soon to be out-of-support) versions of Office”.
Privacy advocates voiced concern about the update, which Microsoft said “will run one time silently without installing anything on the user’s device” because of worries about exactly what the slightly secretive check was doing. Now the company has updated support documentation for the KB5021751 update, insisting that there is nothing nefarious about it.
With the KB5021751 update, Microsoft says that it is looking to determine how many people are running the likes of Office 2013, Office 2010 and Office 2007 — versions of the office suite that are either out of support, or will be soon. At the time of release, the company provided very sketchy information about the activities of the update, which did nothing to allay the concerns and suspicions that many people expressed.
But now an additional paragraph has been added to the update’s support documentation which reads:
This update gathers diagnostic and performance data to estimate the usage of installed Office versions to determine how best to support and service these systems. This data is gathered from registry entries and APIs. The update does not gather licensing details, customer content, or data about non-Microsoft products. Microsoft values, protects, and defends privacy. For more information about our privacy principles, see Privacy at Microsoft.
It is hard to say whether this will be enough to calm the fears of those who have been spooked by the update, but Microsoft has not helped by failing to reveal just what it intends to do with the data it gathers.