MS Confirms: Latest Win10 Update Wipes out MS Word

John Lister's picture

Microsoft has confirmed the latest Windows 10 update has messed up Word 2016 for some users. Fixing the mistake is possible but somewhat complicated.

The problem comes with the latest cumulative update to the system, known as Windows 10 Cumulative Update KB3124200, released December 17, 2015. The component update that's causing the problem accidentally renames a file during the update, which then causes macros, autotext entries, and styles to no longer load.

Autocomplete Among The Messed-Up Features

The file in question (normal.dotm) stores all the template information for Microsoft Word 2016, including customizations that users make such as macros and styles. Even more casual users may notice they lose the custom dictionary which powers the autocomplete feature and adjusts to take account of the user's most commonly typed words.

Unfortunately when Word 2016 opens and can't find the template file -- such as in this case when it's been renamed -- it automatically creates a new copy of the file. This starts everything from scratch, meaning all customization goes missing.

Although some users of earlier editions of Word have reported problems, Microsoft has only officially confirmed it for Word 2016.

Microsoft Publishes 11-Step Fix

For users who have already come across the problem, Microsoft is recommending a series of steps to recover a previous copy of the template and thus reinstate most (though possibly not all) of their customizations.

The complete set of steps is at the Microsoft website in knowledge base article 3129969. The short version is that it involves renaming the new "Normal.dotm" to something else, then finding the most recent backup copy of the file and renaming that as "Normal.dotm" before restarting Word. (Source:

For users who haven't yet applied the update, such as those people who have their system set to manually approve them before installation, it's possible to make a backup of the template file just in case. Bill Snyder at CIO has the details of how to do this. (Source:

What's Your Opinion?

Has your copy of Word been screwed up by the update? If so, are you running Word 2016 or an earlier version? Do you think Microsoft's explanation of how to fix it is sufficient?

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Average: 5 (4 votes)


Dennis Faas's picture

I've looked over the instructions and they aren't too difficult. However, if you're a novice computer user, it may some awkward. If anyone needs help fixing their MS Word, feel free to contact me and I can do it for you.

vonniehughes_10444's picture

That would be good since I write long screeds in novels and editing. I don't have time for fiddling around. How about I recreate new docs and just get on with it?

DarthSolo's picture

Great article! I think you’ll find the following a little humorous.
After reading the article I did some investigating and found that all 7 of the computers we have running office 2016 did not have the update applied. As it turns out WSUS is also broken and is indicating Windows 10 installs as Windows Vista, there for the update was not applied. There is a hot fix for this issue here
Saved by something else being broken….

shujin's picture

After installing (actually after MS auto-installed the latest update, Windows 10 Cumulative Update KB3124200), my table (MS Surface 2 Pro), my tablet will not reboot at all. Any one have more info on the problem or the fix. Best Buy's best warranty will still charge me $199 to fix it even though it was MS fault.

howard_5051's picture

Just checked my 2009 64-bit Dell laptop which has Office 2007 running on it and that appears to be OK. However, I have tried to upgrade it to Windows 10 version 1511 (OS Build 10586.36) twice, but on both occasions it screws up my Internet connection, reporting that one or more network protocols are missing on this computer.

So much for Microsoft's QA! I've now restored to a previous version Image and all is working again.

tfague's picture

I experienced a recent problem when I would "print" a document to MS Word's new PDF creator. When I tried to open the pdf with nay app the screen would flash but then return to whatever was originally displayed.
Wondering what happened I instead printed my document to the free Doro PDF creator and all worked fine. I could open the PDF document.
I now believe this is another symptom of the problem.

chazking260_6087's picture

I had a Brother printer driver not showing up after the update of 12/27/2015. Had to remove the Brother suite and reboot to fix the problem.

nate04pa's picture

Does M$ test these things before sending them out? They should at least test them with their own products!

Another good reason NOT to force users to accept updates.

topaz1943's picture

It appears that it was an update to Word 2016, not the Windows 10 update, which caused the problem.

chazking260_6087's picture

Something else is lurking. I lost my printer driver after the latest update.
Brother MFC-J625DW. I had to completely remove the Brother Suite and reboot and then win10 installed a driver that works.

stephen3588's picture

Nothing new here. Move along.

BTW: Happy Holidays to all!