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Do I need MS Office updates if I only have the viewers?


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

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

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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

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.

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3 comments on “Do I need MS Office updates if I only have the viewers?”

  1. 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.

  2. 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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