Microsoft follows through on promise, disabling Excel 4.0 macros

Future of Microsoft 365 concept showing Excel formula suggestions
Future of Microsoft 365 concept showing Excel formula suggestions (Image credit: Microsoft)

What you need to know

  • In 2021, Microsoft confirmed it would disable Excel 4.0 macros by default.
  • Preview builds saw the new default instituted first and now the change is live for everyone.
  • Admins can configure the new default.

Microsoft's not one to let its Office apps invite security threats, hence why it's cracking down on macros, otherwise known as a potential gateway for malware. No longer will Excel users have to fear for their lives when opening an Excel file only to end up infecting their system with all sorts of digital terrors.

Microsoft made it clear this change was on the way a long, long time ago, so the company's reaffirmation that it has followed through on its plans should come as no surprise.

Per Microsoft, "this setting now defaults to Excel 4.0 (XLM) macros being disabled in Excel (Build 16.0.14427.10000) Per the original blog post, Administrators can also use the existing Microsoft 365 applications policy control to configure this setting."

As noted in Microsoft's comments, admins can tinker with this new default to suit their organization's needs. But for the vast majority of users, what's done is done and the era of macro malware in Excel is officially in the rearview mirror. Which, it goes without saying, is an enhancement to the security of one of Office's core pillars. However, if you're still not satisfied with Microsoft's suite of productivity apps, it's worth checking out the best alternatives to Office 365.

Security's not the only thing on the Excel team's mind. The app also has an ever-evolving slate of new features on the way. For example, it was recently announced that Excel will enable you to add hyperlinks to modern comments. The feature addition has a tentative February 2022 release window, though that's subject to change at any time.

Robert Carnevale

Robert Carnevale is the News Editor for Windows Central. He's a big fan of Kinect (it lives on in his heart), Sonic the Hedgehog, and the legendary intersection of those two titans, Sonic Free Riders. He is the author of Cold War 2395. Have a useful tip? Send it to