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I recently ran the Malwarebytes free download, followed by a Windows Update and a reboot. The PC works fine, except MS Office has been completely removed! (It was a legitimate version which I installed only 3 days ago using a valid product key) There was no trace of the software on my HDD and nothing about the event, that I can see, in the system log (though I'm not very skilled in using the log reporting tool).

Does anyone know if it's likely for Windows Update or MBAM to just wipe out installed, licensed software like this?

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Windows Update cannot remove software. This a personal or office computer? The fact you even bring up the fact it was a valid product key is suspicious. –  Ramhound Nov 8 '13 at 12:55

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