Microsoft has officially made external Office macros inaccessible by default.
If that sounds familiar, it’s because the company announced this change in February to combat malware that exploits Office’s automation features. However, earlier this month, it abruptly decided to revert to having macros enabled by default.
Then, on July 8, it changed its mind again, saying that it still intended to have external Office macros disabled by default in the future—the decision to enable them by default was only temporary.
This kind of back-and-forth about critical software—the world is practically run by people who know how to use Excel extremely well—is likely to be very frustrating for large organizations. It is far easier to adapt to a single change than it is to constantly reassess Microsoft’s position in this area.
On July 20, Microsoft stated, “We’re resuming the rollout of this change in Current Channel.” “We’ve updated both our end user and IT admin documentation based on our review of customer feedback to make it clearer what options you have for different scenarios.”
That additional documentation is available through two support articles, one for Office users and one for administrators (Opens in a new window) (Opens in a new window). More details about Microsoft 365’s release channels—current, monthly enterprise, and semi-annual enterprise—can be found on Microsoft’s website (Opens in a new window).
Members of the Monthly Enterprise and Semi-Annual Enterprise will have to wait for this new default setting, which Microsoft is currently limiting to the Current Channel. In the meantime, organizations in the other two channels can disable Office macros manually (Opens in a new window).