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Three Microsoft 365 features have disappeared

Some features have been dropped from Microsoft 365 Family, Personal and other plans. Wolfram data types in Excel and so-called ‘Partner Benefits‘. As usual the announcement was full of marketing euphemisms and didn’t tell the whole story because a third feature (Excel’s Money template) discontinued on the same date.

Three Microsoft 365 features were dropped on 11 June 2023 (about 8 months ago) .  Microsoft gave more than a year’s notice of these changes.

Microsoft’s announcement to customers only details two dropped benefits but there are really three.

From our perspective there’s not a lot being lost.  It’s not like when Microsoft cut the OneDrive quota to 1TB on the flimsiest of excuses.

What’s happening and when?

On 11 June 2023 three features were dropped from Microsoft 365

Wolfram data types in Excel

The many additional data types sourced from Wolfram stopped working on 11 June 2023.  The existing data saved in workbooks will stay intact but there’ll be no additions, updates etc.

In Excel, Data | Date Types only the “Highlighted” Stocks, Currencies and Geography will remain.  All the “Wolfram” data types will stop.

Still working after 11 June 2023

  • Stocks, Currencies and Geography data types.
  • Organization data types, created inside a company.
  • Power Query data types.

Partner Benefits end

Microsoft 365 Partner Benefits are offers from other companies giving a free trial or low-cost entry to their offerings.

These offers ceased 11 June 2023 (about 8 months ago)

Money template discontinued

The third not mentioned feature being dropped is the “Money” Excel template released two years ago.

The template was also discontinued from 11 June 2023. After that date, new transactions won’t be added.

It’s the data feed that makes the template work. Microsoft published reason for dropping it is just a bit of meaningless corporate drivel.

“We’ve learned a lot from Money in Excel and appreciate the many needs people have for their families and their money. We believe there are other areas where we can have a greater impact and will be focusing on those going forward.”

The view

Leaving aside the usual Microsoft euphemisms for a moment.  Are these feature removals a big deal?  Not really.

The Wolfram data types were always a worry.  They are basically web page scrapings with pretensions.  The information provided was inconsistent, often not properly documented and sometimes unreliable.  Anything gathered from one of these extra data types had to be cross-checked with other sources.

Microsoft says the feature was ‘underused’ and that’s understandable because Excel users quickly figured out the data wasn’t ‘fit for purpose’.  Presumably Microsoft decided the low use and poor data quality weren’t worth whatever they were paying Wolfram.

It’s great the Stock and Currency data types will remain – they are much better quality and supply hard, comparable prices.

Locally sourced Data Types (either inside an organization or via Power Query) are really useful features. It’s good to hear that they will remain.

“Partner Benefits” was really just an advertising platform.  Microsoft presumably took a fee from companies to add their offer to that page. The offers were typical entry deals that lead to higher cost subscription plans.  If these ‘benefits’ were underused, it’s because Microsoft 365 customers saw them for what they really were.

Money template tried to do too much and was hard to customize. That said, it was an impressive bit of Excel coding. The real limitation of the template was that the incoming transactions were limited to one service. Power Query has great features to import data from a variety of sources, including another worksheet. It’s a pity the Excel template didn’t make use of Power Query so customers around the world could use it.

Hiding the third dropped feature

The email announcement to customers mentions “three features we plan to remove next year” then only lists two.

The rumor mill already anticipated that the Wolfram data and partner benefits would be dropped AND also the “Money” Excel template released two years ago.

It seems Microsoft decided to try hiding the Money template stoppage by not fully disclosing it to customers in the same message. Only the message text wasn’t properly updated – oops!

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