Yesterday Microsoft came out stating that connectivity support for Office 2016 and 2019 to current Microsoft 365 apps could end as soon as October 2023.
However, someone may have jumped the gun in approving that version of messaging about the incompatibility between Microsoft 365, Office 2016 and Office 2019 because, the company is now clarifying that the experience of connecting the three could have issues but should ultimately continue after the proposed date.
As Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet has pointed out, even Microsoft is confusing itself with contradictory sentences about where Microsoft 365 apps and Office 2016 and 2019 stand beyond 2023.
Note: Office 2019 and Office 2016 will be supported for connecting to Microsoft 365 (and Office 365) services until October 2023.
One paragraph later:
Important: We won’t take any active measures to block other versions of the Office client that are still supported and are up to date, such as Office 2013 with Service Pack 1, from connecting to Microsoft 365 services. But these older clients may encounter performance or reliability issues over time.
As the end of life for many of these non-subscription versions of Office nears including Office 2013 losing mainstream support April 2023, it seems Microsoft is imploring a subtle scare tactic to get users to frustratingly switch to its less confusing subscription model.
While Office 2016 and 2019 should still connect to Microsoft 365 beyond October 2023, the company is not guaranteeing that they will do so without issues, and in fact, is implying that there will be issues beyond its support control.
Despite being legendarily known for its long support lifecycles to an almost detrimental degree, Microsoft is attempting to plow through with updates to Microsoft 365 services with or without its disparate versions of “outdated” Office software.
Practically, this means that as we make updates to Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and other Microsoft 365 services, we will not be building around the constraints inherent in the older perpetual Office clients that are already out of mainstream support. Customers will not be blocked in connecting, but they may not get the full value out of new investments in our cloud services. Over time, they may run into unexpected issues.
Microsoft’s original message came out yesterday and today the company is getting a bit more nuanced in its description, perhaps, if we wait until Friday, the company will have rescinded the entire notion and added another year of mainstream support for Office 2016 and 2019.