Part 1: The future of Office
So Microsoft™ have announced that they will launch the Office 2019 suite during the second half of this year. In the words of general manager – Jared Spataro, "This release, scheduled for the second half of 2018, will include perpetual versions of the office apps ... and servers." So what are we to expect from this new suite? Also, what is “perpetual Office?” I will answer the latter question first here in part 1 of this blog. This also clears the age old question, “what is the difference between Microsoft Office and Office 365?”
In simple terms, Microsoft Office you buy, Office 365 you rent. The “purchase” of Microsoft Office gives the buyer the right to use Office in “perpetuity.” In other words, the license has no expiration date, and users may run the suite for as long as they want. As time goes by, newer versions are released and the spread of the versions in use widens. At QA we are asked by our customers to deliver training courses on Microsoft Office 2007 suite, which is soon to be 4 versions behind. If Office 365 did not exist, we would be delivering more courses on versions 2010 & 2013 than version 2016 even at this mid-point in 2018.
Buyers of Office have struggled more and more to justify the continuous “up-front payment” to upgrade Office to each new version. The decision to invest needs to be justified against many questions, including:
- What % of the new software I am paying for is new or improved functionality?
- What % of those tools we are investing in will users actually use?
- How long before the “up front” cost sees return in the business?
- What challenges will I face upgrading the new version to all end users?
- What will we do with all the previous versions we have that will now sit dormant?
With Office 365, the Office suite - known as Office ProPlus - is part of your subscription. More than that, as an Office 365 subscriber, you already have most of the new features that are to be released in Office 2019, the remainder will be updates to your applications over the next few months. So the perpetual Office is a release for all customers who do notsubscribe to Microsoft Office 365. This number is rapidly decreasing, but Microsoft recognise not everybody is “in the cloud” just yet, so they are going to release this for their benefit. However, future perpetual Office releases are unlikely. This could be the final version in this manner.
Before I excite you with the new features, let me offer you some important facts about the next release:
Really, this is the last Perpetual Office version?
Although Microsoft has not officially announced this, everything they are doing with Office 2019 leads customers to the conclusion that yes, Office 2019 may well be the last version of Office as a one-time purchase. The below points all give this as a clear indication.
Office 2019 will only run on Windows 10
That’s right, no love from Microsoft for any Windows 8.x, or Windows 7 users. Despite reports that indicate Windows 7 is still marginally more widely used at home and work than any other operating system including Windows 10. According to reports in March 2018 from sources such as ZDNet, NetMartketShare and Gartner Group, Windows 7 holds 41% of the share of users, whereas Windows 10 holds 34%, and Windows 8.1 is a large drop down to 5%. These figures will not make any Microsoft exec a happy bunny. Is this forced switch to Windows 10 a marketing ploy? No, not at all, technology has leaped in business quite substantially over the past few years. Besides many other factors I can reference, A.I. has become a natural part of our lives where people quite openly talk to their phone in the middle of a crowded street. Windows 10 held the launch of Cortana, which already plays a big part in Office 365 to Windows Phones and Android, allowing you to search for content, and announce to you upcoming schedules. Windows 7 and 8.x do not have the technology to handle the advancements. If you’re not moving forward, it makes it harder for Microsoft to keep up with the technology evolution.
So we will have to move our Windows 8 users to Office 365 instead?
I’m afraid not, when Microsoft say “…not Windows 7 or 8 with Office 2019”, that includes Office ProPlus within Office 365, which is really where the codebase Office 2019 will be ported from. This coincides with Jared Spataro’s announcement that “Effective January 2020, Office ProPlus will no longer be supported on Windows 8.1 or older…”
Other versions that will not be supported are Windows Server 2012, 2012 R2 and 2016, and also Windows 10 Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC/LTSB). Your Windows 10 Pro / Semi-Annual Channel (SAC) release will need to be kept constantly up-to-date.
If you are not on Windows 10 by 2020, your options with related Microsoft products are limited.
Office 2019 support period will be reduced by 30% of the usual
Rather than the usual decade of support made up of 5 years “Mainstream," and 5 years "Extended," Office 2019 will get only seven years.
"Office 2019 will provide 5 years of mainstream support and approximately 2 years of extended support," said Spataro in the Feb. 1 announcement. "This is ... to align with the support period for Office 2016. Extended support will end October 14, 2025.” This happens to be the same day Office 2016's support expires.
This simultaneous retirement of 2016 and 2019 is a strong signal Microsoft plans to shut down the perpetual Office purchase option after Office 2019. By shortening 2019's support lifespan – something Microsoft has never done to its flagship product – it may end decades of the original old purchasing option and make the subscription-based Office 365 the only way to license the applications.
Having the 2025 deadline allows Microsoft to sell 2019 for years during the mainstream period, and still allow customers to move to subscription based, seeing updates and new features in ProPlus justifying the switch.