Should I Upgrade to Office 2016?

By Joshua Osborne

Director of Client Services - Microsoft, NPI

November 06, 2015

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Despite being one of Microsoft’s flagship products, Office has been losing its luster and excitement over the years. I mean, how many times can new fonts, art, graphics and other creative features be the most exciting updates to the newest version? It’s no wonder customers are approaching an upgrade to Office 2016 with a yawn.

But this new version represents a game change for Microsoft. It’s no secret that the vendor has been heavily focused on cloud computing and sharing across devices. In these areas, Office 2016 goes ‘all in.’ Features such as document sharing, real-time co-authoring and new application integration are tangible and meaningful additions. What’s really telling about this release of Office is that new updates will continue to ‘trickle’ in (a la cloud) instead of debuting in large releases every three years or so. Much like Windows 10, Microsoft is moving towards an approach where they constantly update and make incremental improvements.

A full list of what’s new and improved in Office 2016 can be found here.

The decision to upgrade to Office 2016 depends on several factors. Here are a few questions to consider:

  • Do you have Software Assurance? Determining whether you already own Office 2016 or not via active Software Assurance is important to determining the direction you want to take. If you don’t have SA, you can either buy the license over again or purchase via subscription.
  • What version are you running today – N-1, N-2 or beyond? Understand where you are today from a deployment and usage perspective. How well is the current version meeting your needs? Keep in mind there will be migration costs along with a user learning curve when upgrading. The older your existing version, the steeper the curve.
  • What features and functions are important to you? Are there new features and functions in Office 2016 and/or other applications (such as Skype or SharePoint) that would drive you a move to Office 2016? This will also be a time to evaluate if per-user licensing is more advantageous than per-device licensing, as well as a time to lay all hosting options on the table. For many customers, this will be the biggest change to Office they will face for some time and could significantly affect future costs.
  • Are you a cloud user or looking to move to the cloud? Are you currently in the Office cloud or looking to move to the cloud? Like the item above, this could be a major shift or it could simply be an evolution if you’re already in the cloud (where Office 2016 will be ‘forced’ upon you very soon). Or, you may be using some cloud services today, but Office may not be one of them. Careful evaluation of how this will affect all facets and usage of Office is required.
  • Office 2016 is just one example of many changes happening at Microsoft – most of them centered around the company’s cloud ambitions. While the benefits of these advancements are many, the decision about when/if to move to these products and services needs careful consideration.