Excel 2016 Compatibility issues

David Ringstrom writing at Accountingweb.com makes some good points about how the shifting versions of Office 2016 can cause trouble.

The problem is most acute in Excel 2016 but can happen in Word and PowerPoint too.  When you share a workbook or document, the receivers Office has to be compatible with all the features used in the document.

The core difficulty is that there’s no single ‘Office 2016’ version with a fixed set of features everyone can rely on.

At any time, there are least three, four or even more incarnations of Office 2016 available to the public.  While the software is fundamentally the same, there are new and changed features that are not supported by earlier versions of ‘Office 2016’.

‘Perpetual licence’ version.  This is the release sold to ‘one-time’ purchasers of Office 2016.  It gets no new features beyond what was in the original release of Office 2016 for Windows.  Computers with this software may not be able to support a document that includes newer features added to Office 2016.

Office 365 ‘subscribers’, who pay an annual rental fee to Microsoft, get new and changed features pushed out to them on a roughly 6 month basis.

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‘Current Public Release’  what Office 365 subscribers have if they’ve allowed Office 2016 to be updated automatically.

‘Insiders’  new features and changes are sent out for testing to ‘Insiders’. Anyone can join the ‘Insiders’ group to get ‘Fast’ updates or the less frequent and better tested ‘Slow’ updates.   Sometimes both Fast and Slow rings have the same version of Office, but more frequently they are different.

And that’s before we consider the almost infinite possibilities of Office 365 users who have stopped or deferred updates.  They could be at any version between the original Office 2016 released until now.

Anyone who is regularly sharing documents with others – for example clients – should stay away from the Insiders versions of Office.

How to tell?

If there’s a problem opening a workbook on another computer, check the Excel version that made the document and the version opening the workbook.  Go to File | Account and look at the version.

This is an extreme case of someone on the Office Insider – Fast track.

Check the workbook to see if it’s using some newer or even pre-release feature.   For example,  Get & Transform has had many changes.