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The view-only Microsoft Office components may, or may not be affected by the updates to their full versions. We'll look at what to consider.

I have downloaded MS Word Viewer and MS Power Point viewer as I do not have those complete programs. MS says there is a security patch for Word and PowerPoint which is pretty large. As I have only the viewers do I need that patch? MS info does not mention this possibility.

There probably never will be a clear answer on this. It kind of depends on exactly how those view-only versions of the programs were created.

But you can guess what I'm going to recommend as the most likely, safest scenario.

The Microsoft Office viewer versions of their applications such as, MS Word Viewer and MS PowerPoint Viewer are probably simply stripped-down versions of the fully capable product. Stripping down could be actual removal of the software that supports anything that isn't viewing, or it could be a simple internal switch that says "only enable viewing functions" - we simply don't know.

What that means is that there may not be a distinction between bugs and fixes in one or the other.

If a problem exists in code that is used by both the full version and viewer version of the product then of course you want the fix for that problem. On the other hand if the problem only relates to the full version of the product then the bug fix may not be necessary in the viewer version.

"My first approach would be to visit the Microsoft Office Update website ..."

The problem is that I'm guessing that Microsoft is not making a distinction between the two when it packages those fixes into an update.

My first approach would be to visit the Microsoft Office Update website and check for updates. Much like Windows Update, the office update site will examine the software installed on your machine and determine which patches and updates you actually need. Clearly, if that process indicates that you need a patch for Word or PowerPoint then you should take those patches and fixes.

The concern is what to do if the website does not recognize you have the Word or PowerPoint viewers installed. If it's unclear that it is, then it's safe to assume that you don't need those patches.

If that happens, being somewhat paranoid, my recommendation would be to assume that the updates and security patches for Microsoft Office that you were told about are required, and to download an install them anyway. It's likely that the installer itself will know the difference, and presumably would install only those fixes that are actually necessary for what you have installed. It's possible that the installer may even tell you that it wasn't needed. But in either case you're done, having done as much to stay safe as you can.

Article C3386 - May 17, 2008 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

3 Comments
Terri Popiel
May 21, 2008 8:16 AM

The good thing about a viewer is that it can be seen and copied on to a free program that comes with a computer. It is editable and usable if you copy and paste.

Michael Horowitz
May 21, 2008 9:17 PM

My experience has been that Windows Update is aware of the "viewer" applications and tells you when there are fixes needed. Finding the right Word viewer to download is a bit confusing as the current version has no version number.

Michael Horowitz
May 25, 2008 6:38 PM

YES. I confirmed this on a computer that does not have MS Office, after installing an old version of the Word viewer. Windows Update found no missing patches, but Microsoft Update found some missing patches for Office that applied to the Word viewer.

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