When the next version of Microsoft Office launches later this year it will only be supported on Windows 10.
Office 2019 will not be supported on Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, despite those operating systems being expected to remain in use until 2020 and 2023 respectively.
When Office 2019 ships in the second half of 2018, it is expected to add features such as improved inking; data analysis features such as new formulas and charts for Excel; and visual-animation features such as PowerPoint Morph and Zoom.
However, Office 2019's support will also differ from that offered for Office 2016, which receives five years of mainstream support, during which it gets feature and security updates, followed by five years of extended support, during which it gets security updates.
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In contrast Office 2019 will receive five years of mainstream support followed by only two years of extended support — meaning support for both Office 2016 and Office 2019 will end on the same date, October 14th 2025. This year's releases of Office server software like Microsoft Exchange and Sharepoint will also share the same support timeline as Office 2019 apps.
Microsoft says that reducing the time it supports software will allow it to release apps with new features and better security.
"Software that is more than a decade old, and hasn't benefited from this innovation, is difficult to secure and inherently less productive. As the pace of change accelerates, it has become imperative to move our software to a more modern cadence," the company writes in a blog post.
Microsoft says that Office 2019 apps will be supported on any supported Windows 10 SAC [Semi-Annual Channel] release, Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC 2018 and the next LTSC release of Windows Server. Office 2019 client apps will be released with Click-to-Run installation technology only, but Microsoft will not be offering MSI deployment for Office 2019 clients, only doing so for Office Server products.
Tying Office 2019 to Windows 10 appears to be the latest in a series of moves by Microsoft designed to push firms to upgrade from Windows 7 and 8.1, such as scaling back support for older versions of Windows on newer processors and casting doubt on the security of Windows 7.
To date, Windows 7 seems more common than Windows 10 in business. According to a survey of enterprise IT admins last year, 68% of businesses are still running Windows 7, compared to 13% on Windows 10. The latest figures from Microsoft showed there were 600 million active monthly users of Windows 10, and some estimates are starting to indicate the overall Windows 10 userbase may be overtaking that of Windows 7.
Other changes include Microsoft ending support for Office 365 ProPlus on January 14th 2020, for Windows 7, 8.1, Windows Server 2016 and older, and any Windows 10 Long Term Servicing Channel (LTSC).
As TechRepublic's sister site ZDNet points out, this change is taking place despite Windows 8.1 continuing to be supported by Microsoft until January 2023, and Windows Server 2016 being supported until January 2027.
Microsoft argues that cutting off support for older operating systems will help coordinate updates between Office and Windows.
New Remote Desktop and desktop virtualization capabilities will also be made available within Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows Server later this year, aimed at meeting the needs of organizations who use these services to stream Office to users.
Microsoft also announced yesterday that it will support the latest three releases of Windows 10 — builds 1607, 1703 and 1709 — for an additional six months. This extension will only apply to the Enterprise and Education versions of Windows 10.