Microsoft Reminds Office 2016 and 2019 Users About Possible Microsoft 365 Service Connection Issues

Microsoft gave notice to organizations using perpetual-license Office versions about a coming 2023 milestone that could result in iffy Microsoft 365 services connections in this Wednesday announcement.

This servicing milestone involves a Microsoft-projected uncertainty regarding connecting to Microsoft 365 services for certain Office products. The change may or may not affect users of Office 2016, Office 2019 and Office LTSC (long-term servicing channel) 2021.

Microsoft offered a table showing the following Microsoft 365 services connection end dates per this document:

[Click on image for larger view.] Figure 1. Microsoft 365 services support end dates for certain Office products (source: Microsoft document dated Feb. 27, 2023).

In essence, many organizations are currently facing an Oct. 10, 2023 deadline to switch from perpetual-license Office 2016 or Office 2019 products to subscription-based Microsoft 365 Apps if they want to be assured of Microsoft 365 connections. Microsoft clarified back in August that it won't block these Microsoft 365 connections, but customers could "run into unexpected issues" that Microsoft isn't obligated to fix.

That warning comes from Microsoft even though both Office 2016 and Office 2019 will reach their end of "extended support" phases on Oct. 14, 2025. Extended support is the latter half of a traditional 10-year Fixed Policy product support period when Microsoft stops issuing security patches for the product. (The traditional 10 years of support is not the case for Office 2019 because Microsoft arbitrarily truncated its support by three years.)

Other Nuances for Microsoft 365 Apps Migrations
Microsoft's Wednesday announcement was just another of its many deadline reminders to Office 2016 and Office 2019 product users about Microsoft 365 services connections, which typically have been communicated in a misleading fashion. However, it included other nuances for IT pros to consider when moving to Microsoft 365 Apps.

For instance, moving to Microsoft 365 Apps also entails using OneDrive cloud storage for files, which means that "user and group shares" need to be moved to SharePoint Online for a migration. OneDrive "cannot open files from on-premises locations," Microsoft explained.

Microsoft also wants organizations that have made a move to Microsoft 365 Apps to decommission "their on-premises file servers or NAS appliances which may create headwinds for scenarios like Frontline workers."

Also, organizations that have moved to Microsoft 365 Apps should not assign "home drives in on-premises Active Directory Domain Services." Doing so would be problematic for Microsoft's "recommended path" toward using Azure Active Directory.

Configuration Manager Not Supported for Microsoft 365 Apps Migrations
Organizations may want to use Configuration Manager to migrate Office 2016 or Office 2019 to Microsoft 365 Apps, but it's not supported by Microsoft. Configuration Manager may work if IT pros can tolerate a lot of warning notices, but Microsoft won't necessarily do anything if there are issues.

Microsoft recommends using "Group Policy or Intune CSP" (configuration service providers) to migrate from Office 2019 or Office LTSC 2021 to Microsoft 365 Apps for Enterprise. In such cases, no deployment package is required. However, Microsoft added a note that "Office 2019 must first upgrade to Microsoft 365 Apps on Semi-Annual [Channel] before moving to Monthly Enterprise Channel (recommended channel) and change must use Content Delivery Network (CDN)."

Regarding that latter point, Microsoft recommended keeping Microsoft 365 Apps updated using Microsoft's content delivery network with the Delivery Optimization bandwidth-triage feature turned on. Early problems that were associated DO use have been addressed, the announcement suggested:

If you align with recommendation to update from CDN, Delivery Optimization (DO), a free cloud service built into Windows, should be enabled. The vast majority of customers I speak with have this disabled as upon initial release in 2015 with Windows 10, some experienced network disruption and/or reporting wasn't available. A lot has changed since then as there are a myriad of configuration options and you can now leverage Windows Updates for Business Reports. You'll need DO to also support other cloud services such as Windows Update for Business.

'Optional Connected Services'
The announcement also gave advance warning to organizations migrating to Microsoft 365 Apps that end users will need to respond to an obscure Microsoft privacy agreement regarding "optional connected services." End users must give consent to using these optional connected services before certain services will work.

Apparently, Microsoft considers certain services (apparently, mostly associated with Bing search) to be licensed to the individual, rather than to the organization, so individual end users must consent to using these so-called "optional connected experiences in Office."

Here's the gist, per Microsoft's document on optional connected experiences:

It's important to know that these optional cloud-backed services aren't covered by your organization's license with Microsoft. Instead, they're licensed directly to you. By using these optional cloud-backed services, you also agree to the terms of the Microsoft Services Agreement and privacy statement.

The privacy statement accessible via the link above doesn't contain the phrase "optional connected experiences." The privacy statement does indicate, though, that people have to find the privacy agreement for an individual product (possibly Bing) to get policy details, so it's an obscure legal goose chase for people with the initiative to do it and lots of time on their hands.

About the Author

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


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