Update Aug. 8, 2022: Microsoft clarified that connections to Microsoft 365 services aren’t ending for Office 2016 and Office 2019 users in Oct. 2023. Instead, some things may not work. See this article for further clarification.
Microsoft on Monday reminded organizations using the Office 2016 and Office 2019 productivity suites that those products will lose connections to Microsoft 365 apps and services, starting in Oct. 2023.
At that time, Office 2016 and Office 2019 users won’t be able to connect to Microsoft 365 services such as "Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business," according to this Microsoft document. The document includes this section that appears to carve out some exceptions for Microsoft 365 apps such as Project, Visio, InfoPath 2013 and SharePoint Designer 2013.
This Oct. 2023 end date for connecting with Microsoft 365 services will be arriving before the two Office products will reach their actual end-of-support phases.
For instance, both Office 2016 and Office 2019 have the same end-of-support date, which is Oct. 14, 2025. End of support means that the software can still be used but security patches from Microsoft will stop arriving.
Office 2013 Ending in April 2023
One oddball aspect with regard to Office support is the case of Office 2013 Service Pack 1. This product will fall out of support on April 11, 2023. However, Microsoft explicitly stated that its connections to Microsoft 365 services won’t get blocked, but there could be "performance and reliability issues," per the document:
We won’t take any active measures to block other versions of the Office client that are still supported and are up to date, such as Office 2013 with Service Pack 1, from connecting to Microsoft 365 services. But these older clients may encounter performance or reliability issues over time.
Microsoft actually stopped adding cloud services improvements to its older Office clients almost two years ago, in Oct. 13, 2020, per the document.
Windows 8.1 Support Ending in January
In a somewhat related announcement issued earlier this month, Microsoft explained that its older operating systems, such as Windows 8.1 and even older OSes will be falling out of support on Jan. 10, 2023. New Microsoft 365 Apps installations will get blocked for those old OSes on that January end date.
Office for Mac End of Support
On the macOS side, Office 2016 for Mac is already unsupported, as it fell out of support on Oct. 13, 2020.
Office 2019 for Mac, though, will fall out of support on Oct. 10, 2023. Microsoft’s announcement and document didn’t describe if this product would also lose Microsoft 365 service connections.
Truncated Office Support
Many IT shops may be a bit mentally unprepared for the truncated Office product support, which used to be 10 years. They also may be baffled by the loss of connections to Microsoft 365 services, which likely seems arbitrary.
Microsoft mostly had forecasted this major policy change for its Office products back in 2018. The 2018 explanation actually specified an extension in support from Microsoft’s earlier proposed truncated Office end dates.
Microsoft seemingly has never explained why it was truncating support for its Office products. Moreover, it has never explained why Microsoft 365 connections to those products would cease.
Later, in 2021, Microsoft also announced five-year support truncations for its long-term servicing channel subscription-based Office products. The explanation offered at that time for the change was that Microsoft wanted to align its subscription-based Office products with the truncated support cycles of its perpetual-license Office products. Microsoft also claimed that organizations just didn’t require 10 years of support for Office products.
Monthly Enterprise Channel Push
Microsoft does seem to want organizations to move to its subscription-based Office products instead of using the perpetual-license ones. The announcement touted using Microsoft 365 Apps for Enterprise, for instance. It’s a subscription-based Office product that installs via Microsoft’s "Click to Run" streaming technology.
Moreover, Microsoft really wants organizations to adopt the "Monthly Enterprise Channel" for getting updates to Microsoft 365 Apps. Microsoft wants organizations to use this channel to a great degree. For instance, earlier this year, Microsoft gave notice to organizations using the "Semiannual Channel" that it would switch them in May to the Monthly Enterprise Channel if they were to take no counteraction.
The Semiannual Channel is just for things like medical devices, according to Jeremy Chapman, director of Microsoft 365, in a video accompanying Microsoft’s announcement.
"The Semi-Annual channel is really intended for specialized devices like PCs on the factory floor or shared medical devices," Chapman said, per Microsoft’s transcript.
About the Author
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media’s Converge360 group.
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