Microsoft 365 Interop Now Iffy for Office 2016 and 2019

Microsoft has stopped testing services interoperability for Office 2016 and Office 2019 products.

Users of the Microsoft Office 2016 and Microsoft Office 2019 productivity suites now face uncertainties when interacting with Microsoft 365 services, per a Friday announcement.

Essentially, Microsoft no longer tests how those two productivity suites work with Microsoft 365 services, a practice that came into effect on Oct. 10, 2023. However, Microsoft "will not actively block" connections to Microsoft 365 services for Office 2016 and Office 2019 "as long as they are in extended support and are kept up to date."

Office 2016 and Office 2019 are currently in extended support until Oct. 14, 2024, per Microsoft's lifecycle product pages. It might seem that Office 2019 would have had more product life remaining, but Microsoft arbitrarily shaved three years of support from it.

By "kept up to date," Microsoft means that the Office 2016 and Office 2019 products need to have the latest quality and security updates installed. Presumably, if they don't have the latest patches, connections to Microsoft 365 services could be blocked by Microsoft.

Microsoft wants Office 2016 and Office 2019 perpetual-license product users to migrate to the recurring payment subscription-based Microsoft 365 service to use these productivity apps. It recommended the E3 subscription plan to that end. Organizations using Microsoft 365 will then perpetually pay Microsoft to use those apps (such as Excel, PowerPoint and Word). One perk with Microsoft 365 apps, though, is that they get regular feature additions, unlike the perpetual-license products.

Moving to Microsoft 365 isn't as simple as it might seem. Microsoft's warning back in March explained that migrating to Microsoft 365 means using OneDrive cloud storage for files. Organizations would need to move user and group shares to SharePoint Online, for instance. Organizations also don't have the option to use Configuration Manager to move to Microsoft 365 because it's not supported by Microsoft.

Microsoft has issued many warnings over the years about the possible Microsoft 365 service issues for Office 2016 and Office 2019 users. Some of those communications were perhaps purposely misleading as a kind of whip. However, organizations expecting Microsoft to fix things, such as future OneDrive functionality with Office 2016 and Office 2019, may have just run out of luck.

There's no solace on the Mac side of things, as Office 2019 for Mac "reached the end of the support on October 10, 2023." Products out of support no longer get patches from Microsoft, which could entail security or compliance issues for organizations.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.


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