Office 2019 and Office 2016 losing important connections in 2023

Microsoft 365 services are stopping for Office 2019 and Office 2016 two years before their announced software end dates  Microsoft is being especially cruel to Office 2019 customers.

In October 2023 (i.e 14 months from now) services like Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and OneDrive for Business will not be supported for connections from Office 2016 or Office 2019 desktop software.

For example, Outlook 2016 / Outlook 2019 might have trouble connecting to a Microsoft hosted mailbox (Exchange Online) after October 2023.

That’s strange because both Office 2019 and Office 2016 will be supported with security updates/fixes until October 2025 – another two years after Microsoft stops supporting connections to their own hosted services.

For Office 2016 it’s disappointing but a little understandable. After all the software will be seven years old and that’s a whole era in modern tech terms.

Office 2019 users should feel hard done by. Their Microsoft software will be a mere four years old when Microsoft won’t guarantee a connection to Microsoft services. That’s way too short a time in our view.

Office 2013 is a little more muddled.  Office 2013 with Service Pack 1 ends software support on 11 April 2023  but Microsoft says that connections to Microsoft 365 ‘sorta kinda’ will still work.  Their exact words:

“We won’t take any active measures to block other versions of the Office client that are still supported and are up to date, such as Office 2013 with Service Pack 1, from connecting to Microsoft 365 services. But these older clients may encounter performance or reliability issues over time.”

In other words, Office 2013 and earlier might still work with M365 services but there’s no guarantee.

Microsoft 365 hosted services only

All this applies for connections to Microsoft 365 hosted services only. Exchange Online is the name for the Microsoft hosted Exchange Server mailboxes.

Connections to other Exchange Server systems not operated by Microsoft (aka hybrid or in-house systems) are not affected. The network IT admins control what connection types are available.

The whole thing is quite (deliberately?) complicated as explained in a Microsoft document.

Not Supported vs Blocked

Keep in mind there’s a difference between a combination of software and service being ‘not supported’ and ‘block’. 

Microsoft is careful to use those terms with ‘not supported’ often misunderstood.

‘Not Supported’ means that the connection or service will still work but Microsoft won’t support the combination.  The connection might stop working at some future time but not necessarily on the support end date.

‘Block’ means the connection won’t work. Usually that’s because older software doesn’t have modern connection methods (which are more secure and sometimes faster).  Microsoft rarely acts to block  software, it’s usually a case of older standards being dropped.

Some examples of why older software can’t connect to modern services are Basic Authentication and TLS, both security related.

Basic Authentication (BA) is the simplistic sending of a username & password to connect to a service.  That’s a very old and insecure way to prove your identity that’s been surpassed over the years by much safer methods (which are largely hidden from us mere humans <g>).  Most software switched away from Basic Authentication some time ago. Now BA is being disabled on Microsoft hosted mailboxes, older Outlook’s which only know about BA won’t be able to work.

TLS (Transport Layer Security) is a modern security system used on the web.  Most web sites, including use TLS to secure the connection to your computer.  TLS is also used by email programs to securely connect to mailboxes in a way that prevents snooping on the username or password. Microsoft now requires TLS version 1.2 for connection to their hosted mailboxes, which is something older Outlook software doesn’t have.

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