One of the biggest innovations Office 365 has to offer is the ability to deliver an always-up-to-date Office client experience to Windows and Mac desktops. In the past, we’ve always had versions of Office from version 1.0 in 1990, all the way up to 2016 (version 16.0) in 2015, and the responsibility for upgrading and patching has been with the system administrator. In this post, we’re going to talk about the Office 365 ProPlus upgrade.
Whose role is it anyway?
For a lot of small businesses the extra task of patching and securing (in amongst all the other responsibilities, a system administrator deals with!) could easily be outsourced. By giving the responsibility of ensuring Office is correctly patched and secured to someone else (i.e. Microsoft) system administrators can spend their time adding value elsewhere in their businesses; especially since a lot of nominated system administrators are actually fulfilling multiple roles within a small business.
Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus
In 2010, when Office 365 launched, Microsoft also launched Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus. Office 365 ProPlus is a version of Microsoft Office that’s tied to a user, always up to date, built to work natively with cloud services like Office 365 and contains all your favourite desktop productivity applications including Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Access, Skype for Business, Publisher and Access. Users can also use their Office 365 ProPlus entitlement on up to 5 devices including PC, Mac, tablets and phones.
Office 365 ProPlus is typically delivered from the cloud (i.e. Office 365) to the desktop (although there are other ways to deploy). The advantage of deploying it directly from Office 365 is that whenever there’s a new update, hotfix, security patch or whole version it can easily be rolled out to every client automatically with little or no interaction needed from those busy system administrators.
Office 365 ProPlus Upgrade
In 2015, Microsoft launched the latest version of Office: 2016. Some questions I get asked often include:
- When can I upgrade from Office 2013 to Office 2016?
- How long can I continue using Office 2013?
- Is there any way to prevent the upgrade to Office 2016?
When can I upgrade from Office 2013 to Office 2016?
Now. The upgrade is available today, although there are a number of key dates you should keep track of. Users who take Office 365 ProPlus directly from Office 365 and are configured for automatic updates should get the upgrade automatically. There’s a helpful TechNet page which details the criteria a client must meet in order to be considered for the upgrade.
How long can I continue using Office 2013?
Updates for Office 2013 will continue to be made available until February 2017. After this, no further updates will be available and it’s therefore strongly recommended to plan to have upgraded all clients by February 2017. Details on how to continue deploying Office 2013 version of Office 365 ProPlus are on TechNet.
Is there any way to prevent the upgrade to Office 2016?
There is, but it’s going to involve a bit of playing around in the registry or with Group Policy. Neither of which are recommended unless you can be sure you understand what you’re doing, and how to fix things if you go wrong.
Ideally, you should avoid finding ways to stay on 2013, and instead find ways to unblock any reasons against moving to 2016. One of the key tenets of cloud services (even Office 365 ProPlus) is that they’re always up to date. The longer you stay on older versions the harder it will be to get to a current version when you’re ready to upgrade.