Microsoft to block VBA macros in Office after user criticism

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Microsoft will eventually block macros in Office software. The company previously announced it would do so, but then reversed that decision. Now it says it will block macros again after feedback from users.

In February, Microsoft decided to stop showing Visual Basic for Applications macros in Office programs by default. Before that, macros in Word or Excel were not loaded by default, but users could activate them with the push of a button. That has been a source of danger for years, because those macros could easily spread malware. Microsoft said in February that macros would be blocked by default and that users could only enable them by allowing macros in the file’s properties.

Security researchers welcomed the decision at the time, but Microsoft backtracked on it a few weeks ago. In April, the new security feature became available in the Preview channel and in June for all users in the Current Channel. Soon after the general rollout, users and system administrators in Office were told that macros would still be loaded and that the additional warning and protection would be reversed. Microsoft gave no explanation at the time.

Now Microsoft is making another spin, again with no apparent explanation. “Based on feedback, we are reversing this decision from the Current Channel”, writes the company in an update. It is not yet known in which preview version and final version of Office programs macros will still be blocked.

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