Resistance is futile. You have been assimilated…

CAVEAT EMPTOR!!!!!  Unadvertised consequences of replacing MS Office 2013 with MS Office 2016.

Ah, well – another “learning experience!”  I don’t ever want to stop learning, but I certainly wish I could get over this particular method of learning! I offer the following for your education so that at least you have a better idea of the consequences of actions you take regarding “upgrades” to more current versions of Windows and MS Office applications! May the Force be with you!

Last May, as I was getting ready to enter Radiation Therapy and go on Medical LOA from Disney, I purchased Office 2016 as part of my plan to keep my existing compute platform (Lenovo 450S laptop running Windows 10) as up to date as possible before I entered retirement and had my disposable income slashed.  On Sunday, Jan 22, a dull, gray, mostly damp afternoon in the South Puget Sound area, I finally found that round “TUIT” that I’d been reserving to do the MS Office install.  Better late than never, right?  WRONG!!!  NEVER would have been much better!

As I was doing the install, I was required to enter my Microsoft account credentials.  I thought that was kind of strange, but it didn’t concern me too much – I (incorrectly) presumed it had to do with product registration. Monday morning I went to log on to my laptop and instead of my Windows User Name that I’ve used for years, it displayed my primary email address. After 3-4 attempts to enter a password, I got a notice telling me to log in to Windows using my Microsoft account credentials. What the heck? So I did. When I started looking into things, it turned out that all of my Office applications showed me as “signed in” and it looked as though if I saved something, it’d be saved out to the MSFT OneDrive cloud. When I went in to manage user accounts, my legacy Windows user accounts (my general user account, sys admin account, and limited privilege guest account) were just gone. The only user account remaining was my Microsoft Account (with credentials stored out somewhere in Microsoft’s world instead of isolated on my laptop, of course). And, of course, the Microsoft Account had full administrator privileges to my device. Not what I had in mind when I started this “upgrade” on Sunday!

I broke down and set up a user name on the Microsoft Community and started inquiries into what courses of action I might have. I got a fairly rapid response from “Palcouk” that my concerns about security were groundless (how often have we heard something similar just prior to a major breach of some big name organization?).

Specifically, “Palcouk” stated:

     “There is no access to your data from outside

     Using OneDrive is optional, data can still be saved to the local PC

     Even if your data is stored on OneDrive no one else has access to it. If you are that concerned you shouldn’t even be internet connected or use a smartphone

     All O2016 versions are associated with an MS Account, its this account you log on to manage your installs, de-activate an old install to install on a new PC – the Key is only used in an initial setup when the MS Account is created

     Office 2016 requires full admin rights

     Its also the case that a purchased version of win is associated with an MS Account”

Yup – a real dinosaur, I am! But I sure as hell don’t do financial transactions from my smart phone or tablet except as required for Google Play Store, and I do my best to keep firewalls, anti-malware, etc. up to date, use strong passwords, never duplicate passwords among multiple accounts, etc. etc. Keeping safe does not, in my opinion, mean that admin rights to my compute resources are held by a network account that I have no physical control over! System admin rights should NOT be associated with a general use network account.

I have a third query in on Community regarding how to disassociate my current Windows 10 install from my Microsoft account and re-install Office 2013. I did a quick search of my disk files, and I’ve got the rescue and recovery disk from when I set up my laptop right after purchase, and I’ve got the original Office 2013 disks that I bought back in 2015, but I’m somewhat hesitant to go that route because of the potential to lose so much stuff that is embedded in the applications rather than in data storage files. Also, I cannot remember if I created the rescue and recovery disk before or after I upgraded from Windows 7 to Windows 10. If the Rescue and Recovery disk is Windows 7, I’d have to pay to upgrade to Windows 10 whenever Windows 7 is no longer supported by security updates (January, 2020 perhaps?) and today, whenever you purchase Windows 10, it MUST be associated with your Microsoft account – no choice!

Microsoft appears to have been moving incrementally  toward a subscription-based cloud-hosted service, much like Adobe has gone to with their Photoshop product line. This appears to be just one more step down the path they’ve defined for Office 365. And I’ve already had the misfortune of experiencing what that will be like, with terrible performance hits and poor control over content and archives, when Disney migrated from their internal Exchange servers to hosting Exchange in “the cloud” on Office 365. My sad experience with the results of that move do nothing but reinforce my aversion to any public cloud-based resources and I’ll continue to resist, to the best of my ability, efforts of “the industry” to push my own personal data storage and compute resources off premise.

AAAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHH!

As of this publishing, I still haven’t received a response to my latest query.  But I’m afraid the answer really is: “Resistance is futile. You have been assimilated!”

As always, may you never stop learning and may your journeys always lead to new and exciting destinations!

LDC