Outlook Connectivity changes per Nov2021

In the past, using outdated clients with Microsoft 365 services was a matter of being in an unsupported state with all the risks that go with it. This meant, that things might not work or you could experience reduced functionality. Overall, things usually kept working with a few consequences or glitches here and there.

A change in this stance was announced today per Message Center bulletin MC229143:

To ensure that we meet performance expectations, we are updating the supported versions of Outlook for Windows that can connect to Microsoft 365 services. Effective November 1, 2021, the following versions of Outlook for Windows, as part of Office and Microsoft 365 Apps, will not be able to connect with Office 365 and Microsoft 365 services.

This means, running old unsupported Outlook versions will go from “possible performance and reliability issues” to becoming actively blocked. This block will apply to these versions in the table below; as indicated, these builds were surpassed somewhere in 2017:

ApplicationAffected BuildsBuild Superseded
Office 201315.0.4970.9999
and older
October 2017
Office 201616.0.4599.9999
and older
October 2015
Microsoft 365 Apps for Enterprise
(formerly Office 365 ProPlus)

Microsoft 365 Apps for Business
(formerly Office 365 Business

1705 and olderJune 2017

While it is true that many customers are stretching the lifetime of their on-premises products beyond their support dates, I’m sure – apart from functionality and management options – performance and reliability is becoming more and more of an issue.

Finally, when this notice concerns you, it means you have not been updating your clients for at least 3 years. So, get planning, as you have around 11 months to update your clients. It also may affect any existing plans of moving to Exchange Online in the future, as getting your client-base in a supported state will become a requirement, and will no longer be a serious recommendation.

Support Lifecycle changes for Office ProPlus & 2016 (a.o.)

Outlook 2013 IconIn a surprise – but welcomed – move, Microsoft announced yesterday that the office support lifecycle for Office 365 ProPlus on Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2016 are extended to January 2023 (EOL of Windows 8.1) and October 2025 respectively. In addition, Office 2016 connectivity support for Office 365 services will be extended to October 2023 (was 2020).

Other announced changes in product support lifecycles were extending Windows 10 Enterprise & Education support from 18 to 30 months. Also, for Windows 7 Professional & Enterprise, paid security updates (Extended Security Updates) will be offered, and those Windows 7 ESU devices will be supported through January 2023 – parallel to Windows 8.1 – with Office 365 ProPlus.

The intention of these changes is to provide customers more flexibility in adopting modern desktops on the client end (i.e. Windows 10) and upgrade their Office suite, preferably to the susbscription-based ProPlus. The release cadence of the cloud has significant impact on organizations, which were told in February to keep in line with product releases as a lot of product support lifecycles were going to end in 2020.

Extending those dates not only gives them more flexibility to plan and upgrade, but also might prevent organizations to do only to the minimum, which is likely the reason many organizations are still on Windows 7 and why it took many organizations a long time to get rid of Windows XP.