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Microsoft Office 2019 release will force IT to migrate to Windows 10

If you're not yet on Windows 10, news about the upcoming Microsoft Office 2019 release may force your hand. Plus, the company could go all in on Office 365.

Changes to Microsoft Office support guidelines mean that IT departments have more reason than ever to move to Windows 10 and Office 365.

When the Microsoft Office 2019 release comes out later this year, Microsoft will support it only on Windows 10, the company said this week. Organizations that want support for the new version of Office on Windows 7 or 8.1 must buy a subscription to Office 365. These moves will push IT to migrate to Windows 10 and ensure that any holdouts pay up for Office 365.

"Microsoft certainly wants customers to modernize," said Tim Mangan, founder at TMurgent Technologies in Canton, Mass. "It's not a bad goal, although Microsoft has to prove to everyone that they can run Windows as a service and customers are not going to get tremendous problems."

A push for Windows 10

More than 45% of organizations plan to deploy or migrate to Windows 10 this year, according to the TechTarget IT Priorities 2018 survey. Others have already moved to Windows 10, but plenty are still on Windows 7 or 8.1 -- or even Windows XP in some cases.

Larger organizations in particular are still hesitant to migrate because of various concerns, most often the automatic update cadence that Microsoft introduced in Windows 10, Mangan said.

"For companies who want to control what goes on there, it means figuring that out," he said. "And every time Microsoft has a new release, there are new things."

The Microsoft Office 2019 release will run only on actively supported versions of Windows 10 with Semi-Annual Channel licenses and Windows 10 Enterprise with the Long-Term Servicing Channel 2018 license (formerly called Long-Term Servicing Branch), which comes out in October.

For Microsoft, it's a support nightmare.
Tim Manganfounder, TMurgent Technologies

The Microsoft Office 2019 release will take place in the second half of this year, and extended support for Windows 7 ends in January 2020. The short period between when Office 2019 comes out and when Windows 7 support ends -- a year and a half, at most -- may be why Microsoft decided to not support that OS and software together, Mangan said.

"You're going to have to switch [Windows 7] out so fast; why would you want to run it on that anyway?" he said. "Just bite the bullet. They're trying to let people use the old operating systems as long as those operating systems themselves are being supported, but for Microsoft, it's a support nightmare."

Microsoft Office 2019
Microsoft Office 2019 interface

Perpetual no more?

Others viewed Microsoft's decision as a harbinger of an Office 365-only world.

Microsoft also changed its support model for the Microsoft Office 2019 release, offering five years of mainstream support and just two years of extended support, instead of the usual five. The company did not say whether it will offer another version of the suite after the Microsoft Office 2019 release.

"Read the tea leaves everyone: that's it for Office without a subscription," said Jon Hassell, a freelance technical writer and consultant in Charlotte, N.C., on Twitter.

Announcing Office 2019

The goal of the support changes is to ensure that Microsoft software gets updates at a more modern pace to address continuous security, the company said.

"Microsoft definitely wants people to subscribe, and that's the future of how they want people to consume Windows," Mangan said. "They seem to for now at least be supporting the folks that want to stick with the perpetual [Office] license."

Additionally, Microsoft said it will no longer support Office 365 ProPlus for organizations on Windows 8.1 or older, or Windows Server 2016 or older, starting in January 2020. The company also extended support for Windows 10 Enterprise and Education editions 1607, 1703 and 1709 by another six months.

Dig Deeper on Windows 10

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Does your organization have plans to move to Office 365? Why or why not?
It now time to move to LibreOffice and Linux.
How do you find LibreOffice compares to Office 365 feature-wise?
Linux / Libre and Open Office becoming more pertinent in today's business.
Twenty years ago I thought "Oh, everyone in business is using Office2000, so I bought it because I wanted to be compatible".

Now, with Open Office and Libre Office, I can open any MSOffice
doc and spreadsheet, so I will go that route.  Once again, it seems, Microsoft does its level best to threaten and pester its customers. Your overbearing and self-serving ways make anyone think twice whether to buy your products again.   

No Microsoft, the way to re-gain customer trust is to support "exactly what the customer wants", not what just is good for your pocket book. Customer service means providing the software
and the answer the customer needs.  Yes, I understand, for someone "who does not care", customer service is "a support nightmare".  For a decent businessperson, customer service
is "an opportunity to garner the trust and goodwill of the customer.
I know, that a totally foreign and quaint notion to Microsoft, but not to me. 

So far, Microsoft, your software is not a service.  Every update
from Microsoft means "wondering and worrying whether I can still use my computer afterwards".  How is that a service? 

Thanks for the comments. What issues have you run into with the automatic updates? Definitely a common concern in enterprise IT...
How does this effect the third case: O365-Business subscription for locally-fully-installed Word/Excel/etc?
Most of these questions revolve around a few things.
Local or Online use and extent of Feature use.
I exchange, modify and create files in Open Office and Libre Office and share w/ all forms of the Office Suite - w/o issue.
Where using any alternative as a Word Processor there is likely no issue. Should you be using the MS Office Suite in some form of Web structure / database you might find and issue with an alternative - i've never found such.
So underhand Microsoft. Win10 only serves your purposes, not those in the Enterprise. Most would have been happy with a modernized Win7, which actually still does what businesses need. They don't want Cortana, the app store, telemetry collection, bi-annual updates and a whole host of pointless other 'features' to worry about. 
Either companies will upgrade, bending to Microsoft's pressure, or they could go the other way and start moving away from Microsoft. There's a lot of money to be saved doing that. MS Office isn't really needed these days either - there are plenty of perfectly capable alternatives, and MS have pretty much ruined Office with the last few updates anyway. Not that they want you to run on-prem Office anymore anyway, they want everyone paying subscriptions and moving to O365. That's what it's really about, and once your in, you'll soon find you're locked in with no easy way out.
We discontinue our Software Assurance as soon as Office 365 was released.

The reason was: Because NO ASSURANCE is needed if you can suscribe at any time or any quantity.

We save $180K.

And we do not need more than 4 new licences of office 2016 since that dessicion. All the rest keep in Office 2013.

We will keep our office 2013 usage as long as we can.
You can use all the saving to strong small "Open Source" companies.

Play fair: Do not feed the beast, feed its enemies.
Avoid any "suscription". They want to catch your wallet forever. Microsoft isnt not a fair company. Once people get in their Cloud, people will bought (instead of, at least, "sell") their soul to Devil MS.
MS write A LOT in small letters ... you will find the inferno in the hand of those thieves.