Mon. Aug 8th, 2022

Microsoft is rolling back a planned change to block Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) macros in several Office apps by default. Announced earlier this year, Microsoft planned to prevent Office users from easily enabling certain content in files downloaded from the Internet that contain macros to improve protection against malicious files. Microsoft had been testing this change ahead of a planned rollout to all Microsoft 365 users in June, but suddenly unblocked it on June 30.

BleepingComputer reports that last week Microsoft informed IT admins that it was rolling back the VBA macro block based on feedback from Office users who tested the changes. “We appreciate the feedback we’ve received so far, and we’re working on improvements to this experience,” reads a Microsoft 365 message.

The new security banner that Microsoft planned.
Image: Microsoft

The unusual rollback surprised some Microsoft 365 users, as many had waited years for Microsoft to be more aggressive in blocking macros from Office files. Hackers have regularly targeted Office documents with malicious macros, and Office has usually asked users to click to enable macros with a simple button. Microsoft’s planned changes would allow Office users to enable the macros only by specifically checking an unblock option for a file’s properties.

Those extra steps have clearly not been well received by some users. “Another terrible update idea from Microsoft,” noted one commenter on Microsoft’s original announcement, with others criticizing how difficult it was for end users to enable macros. Others are surprised that Microsoft is rolling back the changes without effectively communicating to IT administrators that the company is reworking the VBA macroblock. Many IT administrators had prepared users for the macro changes because it is a service that would require user training.

Microsoft has not explained what improvements it plans to make to the VBA macroblock now, or when it will be rolled out again. “Based on the feedback received, a rollback has begun,” said Angela Robertson, lead group product manager for Microsoft 365. “An update on the rollback is in progress. I apologize for any inconvenience caused by the rollback that started before the update over the amendment was made available.”

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