Discover the Real Reason Behind Microsoft's Release of Office Sniffing Update KB5021751

Martin Brinkmann
Feb 6, 2023
Updated • Feb 6, 2023
Microsoft Office

Microsoft released the Windows update KB5021751 in mid-January via Windows Updates to collect data on unsupported Office installations on Windows systems.

Windows Update checks for Office

Windows systems with the "receive updates for other Microsoft products" setting enabled receive the update via the operating system's built in updating system. The initial version of the support page revealed little details on the update, other than that it would help "Microsoft identify the number of users who are running out-of-support (or soon to be out-of-support) versions of Office, including Office 2013, Office 2010, and Office 2007".

Missing KB5021751 information added

An update of the support page provides some of the missing details. According to the updated section, KB5021751 is gathering data from "registry entries and APIs" and won't leave traces behind after it has retrieved the information.

Microsoft claims furthermore that it would not collect data on licenses, users or third-party products using the update. As Microsoft states in the updated details for KB5021751, the company values, protects and defends its customers' privacy.

Microsoft emphasizes in the update description that old Office versions pose a potential security risk, and that old Office installations may "face performance and reliability issues over time". The company fails to provide specifics regarding the issues that users of Office 2007, 2010 or 2013 may encounter.

It is also unclear what Microsoft means when it states that it collects the data to "determine how best to support and service these systems". Office 2007 and 2010 are no longer supported by Microsoft, and Office 2013 reaches end of support in April 2023.

Microsoft could use the data to develop and publish critical security updates for out-of-support versions of Office, if the population is large enough to warrant that. Microsoft makes no such promise, on the other hand, and there are certainly other, less user-friendly possibilities regarding the data.

Microsoft could, for example, advertise Microsoft 365 to these users, or an upgrade to Office 2021 to stay supported.

Another thing that is unclear is whether Microsoft would limit the offers to still supported versions of Windows. Quite a few Office 2013 and earlier installations are run on Windows 8.1 or older versions of Windows. Upgrade offers to Microsoft 365 or Office 2021 would not help these customers, as their operating systems are no longer supported by Microsoft.

It is also unclear if Microsoft would limit security updates for out-of-support versions of Office to Windows 10 and newer systems.

Now You: what is your take on the development?

Microsoft explains why it released Office sniffing update KB5021751
Article Name
Microsoft explains why it released Office sniffing update KB5021751
Microsoft updated the description of KB5021751 to explain what the Office Telemetry update collects and what it does not collect.
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  1. Anonymous said on February 6, 2023 at 11:10 pm

    {Discover the Real Reason} is the heading. Where is the revelation?

  2. Anonymous said on February 6, 2023 at 9:43 pm

    @Martin. I haven’t seen it. Does it uninstall itself after running?

  3. ilev said on February 6, 2023 at 7:45 pm

    Every time you run Office Microsoft knows what version it is so there is no need for KB5021751.
    Microsoft has other sneaky reason for KB5021751.

    1. Spyadware said on February 6, 2023 at 11:17 pm

      Microsoft knows everything you click on, see, do without any updates… Its all built into Windows 10 and 11.

  4. Tom said on February 6, 2023 at 5:24 pm

    I tried every new version, but I’m still using Office XP (2002), as my default App*; none better! (with Windows 11 Pro)

    *Word, Excel, Access and Publisher; all 2002 versions. No ‘ribbons’ or other gimmicks, just straightforward menus.

    As a writer, I was suggesting a friend of mine to use Word’s ‘Blue background, White text’ to prevent eye fatigue, only to discover her new MS-Office version no longer offer this option…

    (don’t let Microsoft hear about it)

    1. Service Pack said on February 6, 2023 at 6:38 pm

      Why 2002 and not 2003 or other version?

  5. John G. said on February 6, 2023 at 5:05 pm

    Do they collect data of every installed software or only about the Microsoft one?

    1. Anonymous said on February 6, 2023 at 9:59 pm

      good question, knowing MS .. assuming the worst. id not be surprised if they want to know if there are other browsers than edge on the system..

  6. Tachy said on February 6, 2023 at 4:35 pm

    Like every other bit of data collected it will be used for targetied advertising :(

    I know it, you know it, we all know it. This won’t stop until unsolicted advertising is made illegal.

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