Microsoft Office 2016 is Here! Should you Upgrade?

September 22, 2015   //   Cloud, ,

Today, September 22, 2015, as part of the Windows 10 wave of products, Microsoft made Office 2016 generally available for Windows 7, 8.1, and 10. Office 2016 revises and enhances many of the well-known tools while providing the best possible integration with the latest cloud features, such as Outlook’s (de)clutter folder for Office 365.

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Office 2016 is cloud-focused

As Office 365 subscriptions continues to explode in growth, Office 2016 is primarily geared towards this cloud platform, leveraging its “click to run” deployment approach. Office 2016 improves upon this by using Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS) to stream updates to clients while being bandwidth conscious. Office 2016 follows the new Update Branches methodology introduced with Windows 10. If you use Office 365, you should definitely consider upgrading to take advantages of all the new features.

Which Office 2016 updates will I receive?

For customers with an Enterprise Agreement, traditional ISO media will become available on October 1. This will be equivalent to the Long Term Servicing Branch for Office 2016. Companies on Office 365 Business Premium will get regular monthly security updates on the Current Branch for Business, but there will be an option to delay receipt of additional features by a few months; these will arrive quarterly as cumulative update rollups, allowing enterprises time to perform testing and validation in controlled settings. In contrast, all other plans, such as Home and Personal, be on the default Current Branch, which gets all patches and features as they are released. Also, those enrolled in the Office Preview program for IT Pros and Developers can remain opted in and get bleeding edge features, or transition onto the production release.

In order to manage Office 2016 with Group Policy, Microsoft provides a downloadable set of Administrative Templates. These can be used to configure all key settings pertinent to the Office suite, ensuring a baseline of compliance across the organization.

How can I deploy Office 2016?

If performing a new install of Windows 10 on bare metal laptops and desktops, consider using Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2013 Update 1 (MDT) to deploy Office 2016, which can inject the application into the image as part of the setup process. Or, to run it as an upgrade process in a controlled, coordinated manner, System Center Configuration Manager 2012 R2 (SCCM) is the right tool.

SWC has a team of System Center experts with experience employing these methods for packaging applications like Office using standalone MDT or integrated with SCCM. Schedule a call with one of our Engagement Managers, who can review your deployment plans or help you create them.