Switch from Office 2013 to Office 2016 - the real story

Microsoft’s advice for Office 365 customers switching to Office 2016 for Windows leaves out some important points.  Here’s the real story based on experiences from Office Watch readers across the globe.

The Theory

According to Microsoft there’s two ways for an Office 365 subscribers with Office 2013 to switch over to the new Office 2016.

Warning! Achtung!  Neither of these options tells the whole story about the changeover.

  • Wait until you see a notification just below the ribbon on the Office 2013 programs.

    When you see that notice, go to File | Account | Update Options | Update Now and Office 2016 will be installed to replace Office 2013.

  • Go to your Office 365 account online My Account in your browser. Choose Install, then Install again.  Office 2016 for Windows will be installed in the background as you continue to use Office 2013.

In the real world

Outside Microsoft’s cosy and fanciful world here’s what you need to know about the change from Office 2013 to Office 2016 for Windows.

This applies to people with an Office 365 ‘subscription’ (Personal, Home or University).  Not the Office 2013 ‘one time’ or ‘perpetual licence’ purchase who have very limited upgrade rights.

Wait for the notification

According to Microsoft the ‘in app’ notification of Office 2016 should happen ‘in a few weeks’.

We’ve had a lot of messages from Office-Watch.com readers who’ve been patiently waiting for Microsoft to let them have Office 2016.  But nothing ever shows.  Even trying to force an update (File | Account | Update Options | Update Now) doesn’t give an option to change to Office 2016.

Microsoft claim that the prompt will be ‘in a few weeks’, but that’s on an undated web page so ‘a few weeks’ gives no proper timeline for customers.  It’s been well over a month since Office 2016 was publicly released so it seems Microsoft hasn’t met their own (vague) timing.

You can wait for the ‘switch to Office 2016’ notification to appear or you can update at your convenience, not Microsoft’s.

Upgrade when you want

Any current Office 365 subscriber can switch to Office 2016 for Windows whenever they like.  Sadly, the Microsoft advice for the change/install doesn’t tell the whole story.

Anyone with 64-bit Office (which seems to be many Office-Watch.com readers) will get into a muddle if they follow Microsoft’s instructions.  Microsoft pushes the 32-bit Office but more and more Office users prefer the greater capacity and efficiency of 64-bit Office.

Microsoft says that you go to My Account and just click the red Install button – but that’s a trap.  The Install button will download and install 32-bit Office even if you have 64-bit Office installed on that computer.

Far better to ignore the ‘simple’ option.  Click the small ‘Language and install options’ link instead.

There you can choose a different language release of Office.  What you need is the small ‘Additional install options’ at the bottom.

That small link gives you, the paying customer, control over exactly which version and type of Office you install.  Here’s the current choices available (this web page changes fairly often and usually without notice):

There’s now an Offline installer that is a very welcome new choice.

Importantly, there’s a pull-down list of all the available Office options.  This is the only place where you can choose 64-bit Office.

At the moment you can choose 32-bit and 64-bit variations on:

  • ‘Office’ meaning Office 2016 for Windows
  • ‘Office Insider’ – the preview/beta versions of new/changed features in Office for Windows.
  • Office 2013 – a welcome addition to this menu.  Office 365 customers can choose to retain the ‘old’ Office for familiarity or compatibility reasons.

If you have Office 2013 64-bit or want to switch to that version, choose ‘Office – 64-bit’ then click Install.  That will download the, relatively, small 64-bit installer file.

Don’t forget our famous and popular guide to Office 2016 for Windows:

Office 2016: the real startup guide

Don't miss out!
Join Office for Mere Mortals

Office for Mere Mortals is where thousands pick up useful tips and tricks for Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook.

Invalid email address
Give it a try. You can unsubscribe at any time.  We've never spammed or sold addresses since we started over twenty years ago.