Office 365 Changes Flying Under the Radar

Notable changes in Office that you might miss

Office 365 Changes Flying Under the Radar

Microsoft will be releasing a few critical updates in the Office 365 productivity package this year for Business-level subscribers. However, in the search for bigger announcements with more media coverage, IT pros might find that these changes fly under their radar.

Here are some of the most significant implementations to be aware of:

64-Bit Office Installs

Updated Office ProPlus and Office 2019 installations will now be 64-bit by default, as of the end of January. Microsoft announcement about this was hidden among an Office 365 Admin Centre memo, which means you might not have seen it if you don’t frequently check the notice board. The change may affect organisations that are reliant on specific 32-bit Office add-ins – the ones that Microsoft has recommended for quite some time.

However, there is potential to benefit from running 64-bit Office, as the system does offer better performance for operations that require a lot of memory. You’ll find that your output improves when dealing with large Excel calculations and videos in PowerPoint. If you prefer to use 32-bit versions, they’re still available – they just won’t be installed by default.

Additional Changes to Office 365 Performance

Microsoft revealed a few other impending changes to Office 365 in a blog post recently, starting with the upcoming block against Shockwave, Flash, and Silverlight in Office 2016, 2013, and 2010. The block will take place mainly for organisations following the semi-annual channel update model, where new features are implemented every 6 months.

Microsoft will also begin to ask Yammer Enterprise users to log-into their account via Azure Active Directory, which may mean creating new passports. Other changes include:

  • OneDrive dropping support for MacOS X 10.11 and 10.10 (from February)
  • Ending support for 3DES (Triple Data Encryption) in Office 365 from Feb 28th. Microsoft will now prefer organisations to use TLS 1.2 or higher.
  • Skype for Business service will no longer be able to access third-party audio-conferencing services from April 1st

Default Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business Migrations

Another transition appearing under-the-radar is the decision to install Microsoft Teams by default for all new Office 365 Business and Business Premium users. Announced in a Twitter post, the change is part of Microsoft’s strategy to replace Skype for Business entirely with Microsoft Teams.

One major element of this change is that the Business plan for Office 365 doesn’t typically come with Teams in the included services, which means that you’ll receive a free one-year trial version of the app instead. The introduction of the trial version will mean that IT admins will need to be cautious about preventing their users from automatically installing Teams accidentally. Any Office user can accidentally trigger the trial.

At the same time, Microsoft is continuing to drive companies towards Teams and away from Skype for Business. Although there’s no timeline for moving to Teams, Microsoft has started an “automated” upgrade process for smaller customers to help move the entire tenant through to Teams on a scheduled date.

To keep up with additional changes to the Microsoft Office 365 strategy and the plan for Microsoft Teams, check out the blog posts here.

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