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Issue #873: April 14-20, 2024

Q: Hope you are doing well this fine morning. In your latest post you said your Q was running on fumes. Here’s one for you that I can’t seem to resolve without maybe doing some registry work. I am using Windows 10 Pro and try not to fool around with the registry unless I have to. Anyway, my problem is that I upgraded from Office 2016 to Office 2019 to Office 2021. When I execute the Office shortcut it come up as Office 2021 However when I look at the location of that .exe file it is located in a folder that says 2016 still. Have you had any experience with this issue. Why do you think there is no folder labeled 2021. I also don’t see a folder labeled 2019. I saw several posts that said that there was most likely other Office licenses that would need to be removed in the registry and told how to do that but as I said I don’t like changing the registry unless there is no other recourse. Another post I read suggested using Word and going to account and sign out of Microsoft and then managing licenses in that area. I did that but it didn’t show any licenses other than 2021. The easiest thing to do of course is to just leave it alone. My OCD tendencies make it hard for me to do that. Just a poser for your day. Office 2021 is working perfectly.

 – Don T.
Valparaiso, Florida

A:  Greetings, Don.  I would imagine you read my column in your Sunday morning paper.  Well, full disclosure: I first read your e-mail in the late afternoon on a Wednesday, so I’ll be answering from that perspective rather than from my morning.  I’m not much of a morning person anyway, and until I get some caffeine in me, most mornings are not what I would call “fine” no matter what the weather.   You are correct in what you said about my queue – it is often running on fumes these days.  It’s almost as if I’ve solved everybody’s problems or something.  (No, I don’t have such a big ego that I believe that!)

I have to tell you, as problems go, yours is pretty benign.  If the biggest problem you’re having is that the software is working correctly but appears to be running out of the wrong folder, I’m not sure I’d be rocking the boat if I was in your shoes.  However, they’re your shoes, and if you want to rock the boat while wearing them, who am I to say you’re wrong?  So, as requested, I’ll try to formulate a reasonable explanation for what you’re seeing.

First of all, please stay out of the registry.  You can do so much damage to your otherwise properly working computer by touching the wrong thing in there.  That said, there are exceptional cases when I recommend registry editing, but when I do, I provide explicit instructions about what keys to access, and exactly what to do to them.  Even then, I recommend performing a registry backup before beginning so that you can do a restore if needed.

I think the issue you’re seeing is a simple matter of an original software installation being upgraded, and then upgraded again.  Speaking as a software engineer myself lo, these past 40 years, I can tell you with authority that we often don’t put a lot of consideration into how future versions of the software will be installed, rather concentrating on the task at hand.  Some engineer at Microsoft apparently thought it was a good idea to use an explicitly named “2016” folder for your original Office install.  Subsequent versions were “upgrades” or “updates” and naturally used the folder the existing product was using.  No harm – the software shouldn’t care the name of the folder from which it runs.

I suspect that if, instead of doing an update, you had first uninstalled the old version of Office and then performed a full install of the new version, the folder name it created would be more in line with your expectations.  If your OCD demands, and you really want to go to all the trouble, you could still try doing that.  After all, you are the one wearing your shoes.

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May 2024

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