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Microsoft rolls back, blocking Office VBA macros by default

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Microsoft has begun thinking about a planned change that would block Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) macros as defaults in a wide range of Office applications.

It was announced earlier in the year. Microsoft was planning to block Office users from accessing certain documents downloaded via the internet containing macros to increase protection against malware-infected files. Microsoft was testing this change before an expected rollout for all Microsoft customers of 365 in June. However, the company suddenly reversed the block on June 30.

Bleeping Computer reports, which Microsoft announced to IT administrators last week, is rolling back its VBA macroblock based on the feedback of Office users who were testing the modifications. “We appreciate the feedback we’ve received so far, and we’re working to make improvements in this experience,” says a Microsoft 365 announcement.

Image: Microsoft 

The rollback’s unusual nature has been a surprise to specific Microsoft customers using 365 since many were waiting long enough in anticipation for Microsoft to become more assertive in removing macros from Office documents.

Hackers have regularly targeted Office documents with malware-infected macros, and Office generally prompts users to select the option to allow macros by simply clicking a button. Microsoft’s proposed changes meant that Office users could activate the macros by ticking an unblock button in the properties of a document.

A few IT administrators were left shocked by the rollback that was made last minute.
These additional steps have not been well-received by some users.

“Another terrible update idea from Microsoft,” wrote one commenter in response to Microsoft’s announcement. Others criticize the process as being problematic for users to turn on macros. Others are confused. Microsoft has decided to roll back the changes but has not informed IT administrators that it is working on a new VBA macroblock. Many IT administrators had been training users to be prepared for the new macros because the change will require training for users.

Microsoft hasn’t revealed what changes it intends to make for this VBA macros block and when it’s expected to be re-released.

“Based on feedback received, a rollback has started,” states Angela Robertson, a principal group product manager at Microsoft 365. “An update regarding the rollback is being prepared. I am sorry for any inconvenience caused by the rollback beginning prior to the time that the announcement on the change became available.”


 

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