Aug. 17, 2018

Planning for the Future of Microsoft Office Licensing

Robert Rotert

Today's blog is powered by The Barn Light in downtown Eugene

Greetings and salutations! I’d like to tackle a very exciting topic I’m sure most would love to know more about: Microsoft Licensing! I know, what a snoozer right? But with the major advancements Microsoft has made, you better hold on to your socks because I’m about to blow them off.

Where Does Microsoft Office Come From?

For the past decade the vast majority of our clients purchase Office when they order a new computer. The purchase is rolled in to the cost of a new machine and Microsoft provides a discount for purchasing this way if you accept some limitations on the licensing like not being able to move that copy of Office to another computer. Thus, Office is used and aged out with the machine exclusively.

What’s Changing in Microsoft Office Licensing?

With the popularity of cloud solutions like Office 365, Microsoft is continuing to develop and tightly integrate Office (Word, Excel, Outlook) with Office 365 (e-mail, SharePoint, Teams, OneDrive). Microsoft is innovating in this space and part of that innovation is combining the cost of Office with Office 365.

What’s the Benefit to Small Business?

The greatest benefit is that the technology is improving and being developed at a fast pace and we all enjoy the gains as they’re implemented, rather than waiting until a new license is purchased. Below are some of the highlights (here’s where you hold on to your socks).

  • When you combine Office with Office 365 you get the benefit of everyone being on the same version of Office. No more dealing with compatibility issues, it just works!
  • With newer versions of Office, Microsoft is streaming updates straight to the application so clients can be confident their Office installation is always patched and secure.
  • Multiple copies for our multiple device world. Users can install Office on up to 5 devices including personal devices like home computers, iPads, iPhones, and Android.
  • Access to Office Web Apps and the ability to view or edit Word, Excel, and One Note documents in any browser!

The Carrot and the Stick (Guess what your old Microsoft Office is)

To keep up with the fast pace of development, Microsoft is reducing their support cycle for Office products. Starting in October 2020, Office 365 will only support the latest mainstream supported version of Office. There are a couple of caveats from Microsoft:

  • Microsoft won’t deliberately prevent you from connecting to the service, but the quality of your Office 365 experience will diminish over time.
  • Microsoft won’t provide code fixes to resolve non-security related problems.

I interpret this as Microsoft saying, “We won’t prevent you from connecting to your mail with an old version, but if we make an improvement that breaks functionality for old versions, then it’s time to upgrade – whether you’ve budgeted for it or not.”

How can you stay current With Your MS Office License?

Going forward, we recommend small businesses currently on Office 365 Upgrade their service to Office 365 Business Premium when they replace machines and plan to address any remaining machines as October 2020 approaches. It may make sense for some computers to ride out past the October 2020 deadline and we can help with that decision-making. Those clients not on O365 may very well stick with preinstalled office on new computers, but there are a lot of different trade-offs going this route.

Final Thoughts

For the benefit of your budget, it makes sense to start thinking of Office and Office 365 as an operational expense for employees and business as opposed to a capital expense with the purchase of a new machine. We want to make sure you’re spending your IT budget wisely and we’re here to help! If you have any comments or questions feel free to reach out to us via the contact page or the help desk.