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Automatic updates for Office subscribers

If you rent/subscribe to Office software, how does the upgrade work. What if you don’t want to upgrade.

If you want to control your Microsoft Office versions, maybe buying the software is a better choice than renting it.

One of the ‘benefits’ of an Office software subscription is that you get the latest software pushed to you automatically. That’s not just patches and service packs but also the next full release of Office (maybe Office 2015? for Windows).

Microsoft sells that as an advantage or benefit because in their marketing world, newer software is always better. Or as Agent Coulson recently said “People tend to confuse the words “new” and “improved.””

In the real world, people want to change Office versions on their timetable, not Microsoft’s. Maybe they don’t want to change at all?

More likely there’s some reason to maintain an older version of Office. A needed feature is dropped in a newer version of Office or something is ‘improved’ in a way you don’t like (e.g. the ribbon). Perhaps you want to maintain compatibility with others using the exact same version of Office?

On the other hand, if the majority take up Microsoft’s Office rental scheme there will be less incentive for Microsoft to update Office. So maybe we won’t have to worry about changes to Office as much as in the past.

The details of an Office version switchover isn’t clear because it’s more than a year away. Our understanding is that there’ll be an overlap period where you’ll be able to use the existing Office software or switch to the newer release.  However at the end of that overlap time, all subscribers will have to switchover.

That’s a problem for advanced users and developers.

We can hope that Microsoft will see past their own self-interested enthusiasm and allow software renters (sorry, subscribers) to use the version of Office that the customer wants.

One possibility for the moment is to subscribe but not use Microsoft’s preferred ‘Click to Run’ technology which pushes updates to you automatically. Instead install Office using the ‘old’ familiar ‘download file then install’ option – which Microsoft now calls ‘MSI’ to make it sound more mysterious and difficult than it really is.

Unfortunately, a traditional or MSI install is only available to volume licence customers with Office 2013 Standard or Professional Plus. The many requests from customers for an alternative to ‘Click to Run’ have fallen on deaf Microsoft ears because it doesn’t suit the company to do it.

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