Microsoft points to October end-of-support for older Office apps accessing 365 services

Microsoft recently reminded customers that starting Oct. 13 the company will not support older versions of Office applications connecting to Office 365 and Microsoft 365 services.

In a support document dated July 20, Microsoft listed the applications that will be “supported for connecting to Office 365 (and Microsoft 365) services” such as Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business.

  • Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise, formerly known as “Office 365 ProPlus;”
  • Microsoft 365 Apps for business, previously “Office 365 Business;”
  • Office 2019;
  • Office 2016, but only the Windows version.

The Office editions left in the cold are those provided with “perpetual” licenses – ones customers paid for once, not repeatedly as for Office or Microsoft 365 subscriptions – including Office 2013 on Windows, which is to receive support until April 11, 2023; Office 2010 for Windows; and Office 2016 for Mac. The last two exhaust general support on Oct. 13. (Mac versions of Office are supported for only five years, rather than the decade Windows’ editions receive.)

Although excluding some Office applications from Office 365 service support may seem harsh – especially when those applications are owed years of support – Microsoft softened the blow considerably. “We won’t take any active measures to block other versions of the Office client, such as Office 2013, from connecting to Office 365 services, but these older clients may encounter performance or reliability issues over time,” the Redmond, Wash. developer stated in the support document.

With support lost more from omission than commission, Microsoft argued that customers “will almost certainly face an increased security risk” and “find themselves out of compliance” rather than be suddenly suspended from accessing, say, OneDrive.

Microsoft has long played with the support of Office applications connecting to Office 365 services. Three years ago, the company said that perpetual-license versions of Office would be able to connect to Microsoft’s cloud-based services only during the first half of their 10-year support lifecycle. It set Oct. 13, 2020 as the date when the new policy would take effect.

But in September 2018, Microsoft gave Office 2016 a reprieve, saying that that suite would be able to connect to the services through October 2023.

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