Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Office 2016 update branches and how to force an upgrade for Office 365 ProPlus

Last week Microsoft released Office 2016, the most recent edition of their productivity suite including Word, Excel and Outlook. What does this mean for customers who consume Office as part of the Office 365 ProPlus subscription? Why was my Office version upgraded without any warning? Or why am I still on Office 2013?

Update branches

Microsoft introduced ‘update branches’ to release updates to three types of customers:

Read more about release branches in the TechNet Technical Library: Overview of update branches for Office 365 ProPlus or this excellent write-up by Perficient’s Joe Palarchio How Is The Office 2016 Release Relevant To My Office 365 Users?


I want it now!

So if you have Office 365 ProPlus and your Office 365 plan is not Home or Business Premium but for instance Enterprise, you may want to know if you can force an upgrade to Office 2016 on your computer. To achieve that we need to switch out Office install from Current Branch for Businesses to Current Branch. In an enterprise the admins would configure this with a GPO template for Office 2016 or with the Office Deployment Tool when Office is installed on the user’s computer.

The latter is very easy to upgrade Office 365 ProPlus on a single computer to, just follow this procedure.

  1. Download the Office Deployment Tool and extract the files to a temporary location, for instance C:\Office.
  2. Make a backup of the configuration.xml file and edit the contents to something similar to this:

        <Add SourcePath="c:\Office\" OfficeClientEdition="64" Branch="Current">
            <Product ID="O365ProPlusRetail">
            <Language ID="en-us" />
        <Updates Enabled="TRUE" Branch="Current" />
        <Display Level="Full" AcceptEULA="TRUE" />

    Note that the value for Branch is set to Current. Other valid values are Business or Validation (First Release).
  3. Execute .\setup.exe /download c:\Office\configuration.xml to download the Office files to your local computer, this may take a while.
  4. Next start the installation with .\setup.exe /configure c:\Office\configuration.xml

During the installation of Office you will be prompted to save your work and close any opened Office programs.


Enjoy Office 2016!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Using Exchange 2007? Do not upgrade to Outlook 2016

In case you missed it, this week Microsoft released the new Office suite: Office 2016. Of course the latest version includes an updated version of Outlook too. Many people are eager to explore the new version of Office and others found their Office was automatically updated to Office 2016. From an Exchange perspective it’s important to be aware of the fact that Outlook 2016 does not support connections to Exchange 2007.

Customers who upgrade to Outlook 2016 and try to connect to their Exchange 2007 mailbox see this error message presented: The resource that you are trying to use is located on an unsupported version of Microsoft Exchange. Contact your e-mail administrator for assistance

This information can of course be found in the Office System Requirements, but you have to look for it:


Technically speaking there are workarounds available such as have Outlook 2016 access the Exchange 2007 server with the IMAP4 or POP3 protocol, but this of course introduces serious limitations and is not comparable with connecting through a MAPI or Outlook Anywhere connection.

Microsoft released an article which describes this issue and instructs Office 365 Personal, Office 365 Home, or Office 365 University users who's Outlook was automatically upgraded to Outlook 2016 to contact Microsoft Support to assist with a roll-back to Office 2013. See Error: Unsupported version of Microsoft Exchange error when you use Outlook 2016 to connect an Exchange 2007 account.

By the way, if your organization is still using Exchange 2007 you may want to look into an upgrade to a more recent Exchange version or Exchange Online. Exchange 2007 is in the Extended Support phase since 2012 and will go out of support in April 2017.