Recently, the Microsoft Office Blog posted about three significant changes to its Office 365 (O365) ProPlus application that are key for your application planning moving forward.
The announcement included: changes to the O365 system requirements – affecting support moving forward, enhancements to the Office 365 ProPlus update model, including alignment with Windows, and updated tools to manage the Office 365 ProPlus application compatibility.
Changes to the O365 systems requirements – affecting support moving forward
Regarding the first change – this will have the largest impact on those organizations that use perpetual – license Office products.
As you can see from the chart below posted by the Microsoft Tech Community those that fall under perpetual-license Office products that fall outside of mainstream support will need to ensure they are either engaging with their SAM provider or stay on top of the pending deadlines. Those clients will have no connection to O365 services starting on October 13, 2020 (yes I realize this is three years away, but time has a way of sneaking up on us), which includes OneDrive and Skype for Business, and Outlook.
|Connectivity to Office 365||Impact of change||Technical implications||Recommended actions|
|Office 365 ProPlus or mainstream Office clients||No change||Plan for regular updates to stay within support window||No action required|
|Office clients outside mainstream support||Client connectivity no longer available||Office desktop client applications, such as Outlook, OneDrive for Business and Skype for Business clients will not connect to Office 365 services||Upgrade to current version of ProPlus or mainstream Office clients or use browser or mobile apps|
|Browser and mobile apps||No change||No change||No action required|
|Office desktop clients outside mainstream support not using Office 365||No change||Set your own desktop upgrade timeline, in line with your on-premises server upgrades. When planning to move to Office 365 services, an Office client upgrade will be required||No action required|
The impact of the changes to the O365 ProPlus system requirements is being speculated as similar to how Outlook 2007 will no longer work with Exchange Online starting in October 2017 – somehow Microsoft will simply block pieces of the Office suite and the O365 services, although this has not been confirmed by Microsoft.
Further, on October 31, 2017 RPC/HTTP will be deprecated in Exchange Online in favor of MAPI/HTTP. This is an issue because Outlook 2007 does not support MAPI/HTTP. The minimum required versions will include:
- Office 2016 plus PU.2015.12
- Office 2013 SP1 plus PU.2015.12
- Office 2010 SP2 plus PU.2015.12
All of these updates can be accessed via the KB article located here.
Additionally, customers may need to ensure their Outlook clients are not using a registry key to block MAPI/HTTP. More details about this registry key can be found in this KB article.
This will be a pain point in the near-term for some of you, but in the longer-term as more services and applications move to the cloud and faster release cycles become the norm, this is simply the reality of support today. Support is no longer “for life” and is definitely moving towards only being available for as long as the product is still current. Simply put, with new versions and new releases will come new support requirements.
Enhancements to the ProPlus update model, including alignment with Windows 10
Second in line for the recent announcements included a consolidation of releases across Office 365 ProPlus, Windows 10, and Systems Center Configuration Manager to help ensure policies and updates are more consistent across the lines. Microsoft has listed the release dates for the upcoming consolidated schedule as starting on September 12, 2017 in its “Overview of the Upcoming Changes to Office 365 ProPlus Update Management” support document – but it does warn customers that all dates are estimates and not all of the release schedule dates are listed.
The support document further “warns” that there will only be three months, rather than four, to complete enterprise pilots and application validation for the first release of the deferred channel that is scheduled to be released on June 13, 2017.
Updated tools and ability to manage the ProPlus application compatibility
Last but not least, Microsoft also noted the company will be creating new tools to help organizations moving to Office 365 ProPlus. These tools will help determine any compatibility issues for using certain Office programs or customizations. Of course, as always, you should check with a company like SoftwareONE to help you with such a migration in the first place.