Microsoft springs last-minute demand on buyers of Windows 7 after-expiration support

Microsoft this week threw a wrench into the workings of its long-touted Windows 7 post-retirement support, telling IT administrators that there was a brand new prerequisite that must be installed before they can download the patches they’d already paid for.

The last-minute requirement was titled “Extended Security Updates Licensing Preparation Package” and identified as KB4538483 in Microsoft’s numerical format.

The licensing prep package can be downloaded manually from the Microsoft Update Catalog. It should also appear in WSUS (Windows Server Update Services), the patch management platform used by many commercial customers. It will not, however, be automatically delivered through the Windows Update service, which some very small businesses rely on to provide them necessary patches.

Cumbersome might be a word for the process of handling the new requirement. “So we have to deploy the license prep package, reboot, rescan for updates, install the new updates and reboot again?” asked someone identified only as Eric on Twitter. (He claimed he was an administrator for more than 15,000 Windows clients in Cincinnati.)

“That is correct,” replied the Windows Update Twitter account.

Failing to deploy KB4538483 means that PCs running Windows 7 – and which had been prepped to receive the first post-retirement Extended Security Updates (ESU) released Tuesday, Feb. 11 – would not get the security updates.

Prior to this week, Microsoft had said nothing of the last-second requirement, although the company had been loquacious during the run up to ESU’s debut this month. Microsoft had spelled out instructions for acquiring ESU and readying Windows 7 systems for the patches arrival. Even as KB4538483 hit the Update Catalog and Microsoft revised its step-by-steps – including here and here – notification of the new prerequisite was extremely low key.

No wonder KB4538483 caught admins by surprise.

“For small businesses this was very disruptive,” said Susan Bradley, a computer network and security consultant, the moderator of the PatchMangement.org mailing list and the contributor known as “The Patch Lady” to the AskWoody.com Windows tip site. Bradley had actively investigated how small businesses could acquire ESUs in the months before the program’s launch.

“I had to personally assist several of my clients in purchasing these keys, thought they were all set and had to reach out to them, remote into their computers and install this last minute update knowing that they wouldn’t know how to get this patch, nor exactly how to install it since they normally do not go to the Microsoft catalog site,” she said.

Bradley, like anyone outside Microsoft, had no idea why the Redmond, Wash. company sprung the surprise on ESU customers. “It didn’t act like a normal servicing patch,” she observed. After investigating further, Bradley speculated that KB4538483 was “licensing related.”

Sort of.

Computerworld asked Microsoft to explain KB4538483, posing questions including, “Why was KB4538483 suddenly necessary?” and “Did Microsoft overlook something prior?”

“The Extended Security Updates (ESU) License Preparation Packages (KB 4538483 & KB4538484) address activation experience requirements identified during our testing and evaluation with a large population of preview customers,” Microsoft said, answering-and-not-answering the queries, a common occurrence. “We introduced the ESU License Preparation Packages at launch on February 11, 2020, to provide a consistent user experience going forward, minimum number of package installations and minimize overall customer disruption.”

More disruption now so there would be less disruption later? Okay.

“The idea behind paid-for security patches is to make it easier to be patched while you are still running Windows 7, not make it harder to get updates,” Bradley told Woody Leonard, a columnist for Computerworld and the head of AskWoody.com.

Microsoft syncs Edge's release to Chrome's cadence

Microsoft last week quietly upgraded its Chromium-based Edge to version 80, the first refresh for the browser since it debuted in a stable format three weeks earlier.

The Redmond, Wash. company upgraded Edge to version 80.0.361.48 on Friday, Feb. 7, just three days after Google upgraded Chrome to version 80.

Chrome and Edge each rely on Chromium, the Google-dominated open-source project responsible for creating and maintaining the browsers’ core technologies, including the rendering and JavaScript engines. Chromium set version 80 in stone in early December 2019

Since then, developers at both Google and Microsoft have been working on their versions of Chromium 80, each using a multi-stage cadence of Canary, Dev, Beta and then Stable builds to release progressively more reliable and polished code.

One question that Microsoft has not addressed is how long it would take to get from Chromium to a finished version of Edge, most importantly whether there would be a lag, and if so, how long,between Google launching Chrome and Microsoft releasing Edge. The shorter the lag, the better: Criminals could conceivably exploit a large gap by reverse engineering Chrome’s fixes for that version’s security vulnerabilities, then applying the results to a not-yet-patched Edge.

The first Chrome security update issued after Edge’s Jan. 15 launch was on Jan. 16. Microsoft delivered an update for the same vulnerabilities on Jan. 17. Although the narrow window between the two was encouraging, what was still unknown was the length of the lag between Google promoting a new version of Chrome to the Stable branch and Microsoft following suit.

That lag turned out to be only three days.

On Tuesday, Jan. 4, Google released Chrome 80.0.3987.87, with new features as well as 56 security fixes. Google listed 37 of the 56 with CVE (Common Vulnerabilities & Exposures) identifiers. Ten of the 37 were marked “High,” the second-most-serious ranking in Chrome’s (and Chromium’s) four-step rating system.

In Microsoft’s ongoing Edge security advisory, the firm reported that Edge 80.0.361.48 also included fixes for the same 37 CVEs. (Presumably, Microsoft also patched the 29 bugs for which Google did not list CVEs.)

What Microsoft has yet to do is describe what non-security changes were made to Edge between versions 79 and 80. (To be fair, Google has not done the same for Chrome 80, in part because it tends to tout new features and functionality when they reach the browser’s Beta build.)

A commentary on the support page titled “Release notes for Microsoft Edge Security Updates,” for example, was laughably short, and in the advisory Microsoft took to linking to Google’s notes for Chrome 80.

Some ideas about changes made in Edge 80 can be gleaned by searching the browser’s group policies’ documentation using the string “since version 80.” Doing so signaled that Edge 80 will likely began to enforce the SameSite cookie control standard around the same time as does Chrome, and that it will also tackle mixed content, notably blocking downloads of files over non-encrypted connections, as Chrome is to do in March.

The near-to-Chrome release of Edge 80 also means that users of the latter should expect upgrades on the same rhythm as Chrome users do their browser, and close to the same dates.

The next several versions of Chrome are scheduled to release on these dates. Microsoft should upgrade Edge with days of them.

Chrome 81: March 17

Chrome 82: April 28

Chrome 83: June 9

Chrome 84: Aug. 4

Chrome 85: Sept. 15

Microsoft retreats from scheme to change Chrome's search engine

Microsoft today backed away from its heavily criticized plan to force Google’s Chrome to use the Bing search engine.

“The Microsoft Search in Bing extension will not ship with Version 2002 of Office 365 ProPlus,” Microsoft said in an unsigned post to a company blog.

Late last month, Microsoft had quietly announced that it would change the default search engine of Google’s Chrome to Bing — Microsoft’s own search service — on personal computers running Office 365 ProPlus, the productivity applications that serve as the heart of enterprise-grade Office 365 subscriptions.

The swap of search defaults within Chrome was to begin this month and wrap up by July, the timing dependent on when corporate IT administrators had scheduled Office 365 ProPlus’ upgrades. “Starting with Version 2002 of Office 365 ProPlus, an extension for Microsoft Search in Bing will be installed that makes Bing the default search engine for the Google Chrome web browser,” Microsoft said when it delivered the news. “This extension will be installed with new installations of Office 365 ProPlus or when existing installations of Office 365 ProPlus are updated.”

Microsoft also said that it would do the same to Office 365 ProPlus customers’ copies of Firefox, although it left the timing to an unspecified later date.

The reason for the forced change to search, Microsoft said, was that Bing was required to implement Microsoft Search, which when tied to an Office 365 account let users look up internal information — documents stored on OneDrive or SharePoint, for example — from the browser’s address bar.

Microsoft’s new Edge browser, which like Chrome is built from code produced by the Google-dominated Chromium open-source project, used Bing by default and so could search for and find such information. By adding the extension to Chrome, and later Firefox, Microsoft would put those browsers’ users on an equal Office 365 footing with ones running Edge.

In plainer terms, Microsoft was more interested in pushing a notable Office 365 feature, and thus Office 365, than it was in getting permission from users before switching browser search defaults.

Reaction to the announcement came fast and furious, with many tossing off comments such as “Are you out of your mind?” and “insanely stupid.” Virtually every remark seen by Computerworld was negative, with large numbers equating the move to browser hijacking. Many called on Microsoft to at least get prior approval from customers — make it opt-in — if it wasn’t going to outright cancel the project.

By all appearances, Microsoft has shot down the idea of serving the add-on to all Office 365 ProPlus users running non-Edge browsers, thus shutting down the initiative.

“The Microsoft Search in Bing browser extension will not be automatically deployed with Office 365 ProPlus,” the company said in the blog post, adding that enterprise IT staff would be able to opt-in from the Microsoft 365 admin center. “In the near term, Office 365 ProPlus will only deploy the browser extension to AD-joined devices, even within organizations that have opted in,” Microsoft continued, referring to Active Directory.

It also pledged to “provide end users … with control over their search engine preference.”

Yet users sought clarification of the company’s language, suspicious that the extension would still be pushed to some, if not all, users. “Can you clarify ‘will only deploy the browser extension to AD-joined devices, even within organizations that have opted in‘? Maybe you mean you will only deploy ONLY within organizations that have opted in?” asked Jonas Beck in a comment appended to the blog.

Meanwhile, another commentator simply wasn’t buying Microsoft’s claim that “We’ve heard from many customers who are excited about the value Microsoft Search provides through Bing and the simplicity of deploying that value through Office 365 ProPlus.”

“Where? Who? I have not seen one single positive comment about this change anywhere — not on Twitter, not as comments on your own blog posts, not in magazines or blogs, not on reddit, not on other forums. Show us one,” demanded Michael Smith. “This was just stupid. And enough to erase a LOT of goodwill you had been earning.”

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Win10 Search blackout due to 'fiber provider' glitch? Pull the other one, Microsoft.

If you believe that yesterday’s worldwide crash of Windows 10 Search was caused by a bad third-party fiber provider, I have a bridge to sell you.

Microsoft’s transparency in the Search black box fiasco has earned it a “five nose Pinnochio” veracity rating from Patch Lady Susan Bradley. That’s as bad as it gets.

Microsoft wants you to believe that:

… a temporary server-side issue caus[ed] Windows search to show a blank box. This issue has been resolved for most users and in some cases, you might need to restart your device. We are working diligently to fully resolve the issue and will provide an update once resolved. 

Clearly, that’s only part of the story. Here’s what we know for sure.

Windows 10 Search works even if you aren’t connected to the internet. Go ahead. Unplug your computer. See?

Bing was only tangentially involved. Many people found that they could get their Search boxes back by modifying the registry to disable Bing Search — the “feature” in Windows 10 that routes all of your Search bar searches through Microsoft’s data-gathering servers. But a large number found that zapping Bing Search didn’t bring back the Search box.

There were no official patches associated with the outage. None went out yesterday morning.

There were no Microsoft Store updates associated with the outage. Lots of searching by lots of people has turned up exactly zero evidence of changes to any Store apps leading to the chaos.

So if there were no bad patches, and Win10 Search doesn’t require an internet connection, what’s going on? 

Consider:

Microsoft has been monkeying around with Search builds. What started as a snipe hunt for changing default Search text (thx, @howardagoldberg) turned into the discovery of an explosion of rapidly changing Search build numbers — 2020.02.01.6237928, 2020.02.02.6237943, many more. My main machine’s up to 2020.02.04.6238073 early Thursday morning.

The Search app has changed from an old Win32 program that’s worked pretty well since Win7 days into a new JavaScript/React UWP POS (thx, @warrenrumak). I’ve been expecting that shift since we started having problems with File Explorer Search in Win10 version 1909 months ago. I didn’t expect to see a retroactive change in Win10 version 1903, but now it appears as if UWP-itis has infected both versions.

The intent, of course, is to give us a flashy new Search “experience” that shows today’s weather, news, today in history, and new movies (thx, @b) whenever you type in the Search box. What a great idea. Not.

That’s what we know for sure. Permit me to toss out a conjecture.

Microsoft appears to be updating Search — the Search that runs on your machine — by changing things on its servers. There’s no user notification about changes, no permission requested or granted to change the Search software. No Patch Tuesday. No KB article. No cumulative updates. Not even a Windows Store entry to block. No documentation. Nothing you can do about it.

As best I can tell, this has led to a merry round of beta (alpha?) testing, where Microsoft’s test machines are our production machines.

Somehow, a bad version of Search made it into production on our machines that shows a black screen and disables the Search box entirely. When the folks at Microsoft finally figured that out, it took them about three hours to push out a new version. Remember, Search should work whether you’re connected to the internet or not. Yes, the bugs were on Microsoft’s servers — third-party fiber provider notwithstanding. But they were also on our machines.

Short version: Somebody at Microsoft is beta-testing buggy JavaScript code on our machines. Without warning. And there’s nothing we can do about it.

There’s a further conjecture: Is it possible that responsibility for the Search software was pulled out of the Windows Experience team and placed in the Windows Core team? Remember, those two groups report to entirely different masters — Joe Belfiore for Experience, Scott Guthrie for Core. Belfiore is headed out for another months-long cruise with his family, with Panos Panay picking up the baton. I have no idea what @ScottGu is doing right now. He’s been uncharacteristically silent for many months. Perhaps he fell off his bicycle.

It’s time somebody at Microsoft stepped up to the microphone and told Bradley’s Pinocchio what’s really happening.

More on AskWoody.com.

Microsoft advisory shows whether Edge keeps up with Chrome's patching

Microsoft has posted a security advisory that will record all updates to its new Chromium-based Edge browser, giving customers a way to monitor whether the company keeps up with Google’s patching of Chrome.

“This advisory will be updated whenever Microsoft releases a version of Microsoft Edge which incorporates publicly disclosed security updates from the Chromium project,” the Redmond, Wash. firm wrote on the support document.

As of mid-day Wednesday, only one listing populated the advisory. The item, dated Jan. 17, called out four CVE-identified vulnerabilities. (CVE, for “Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures,” is the most-used bug-naming standard.)

The advisory also noted the Edge version number that included the patches and the corresponding version of Chromium that also quashed the bugs. Because Chrome assumes Chromium’s version numbers without change – for some reason, Edge does not – the advisory was the first way Computerworld found to link a specific version of Edge to one of Chrome.

MSFT Edge advisory Microsoft

This security advisory is supposed to list all Edge security updates. Comparing the version number of Edge to that of Chrome lets customers monitor whether Microsoft has kept up with Chromium’s/Chrome’s fixes.

Google released Chrome 79.0.3945.130 – the Chromium version listed in the advisory – on Jan. 16, saying here that the interim update included patches for 11 vulnerabilities. As usual, Google only identified four of the 11 by CVE. The quartet matched the four CVEs that Microsoft said were addressed in Edge.

Meanwhile, the Edge update, which Microsoft released Jan. 17 – one day after Chrome’s – was marked as version 79.0.309.68.

(That’s not the most current Edge; Microsoft updated the browser again on Jan. 23 to 79.0.309.71. However, there was no sign that that version patched any vulnerabilities. For a complete listing of Edge updates, users can steer to the Microsoft Update Catalog; Computerworld has pre-filtered the results to show only those for the Stable build of the browser.)

Edge 79.0.309.68 thus equals Chrome 79.0.3945.130.

Microsoft patched Edge just a day after Google refreshed Chrome, indicating that the former browser will not substantially lag behind the latter. If it had, attackers might have been able to use the interval to reverse engineer a patch, uncover the vulnerability and craft an exploit.

Still unknown is the size of the gap between Google promoting a new version of Chrome to the Stable branch and Microsoft following suit with Edge.

On Tuesday, Google released Chrome 80 – specifically, version 80.0.3987.87 – with new features as well as 56 security fixes. Google listed 37 of the 56 with CVE identifiers. Ten of the 37 were marked “High,” the second-most-serious ranking in Chrome’s four-step rating system.

As of 2 p.m. ET Wednesday, Microsoft had not updated Edge to reflect the Chrome’s shift to version 80. Computerworld will continue to monitor Edge and how, or even if, it keeps pace with Chrome.

Office 365: A guide to the updates

Office 365 subscribers always have the latest version of Microsoft Office — currently Office 2016. They also get more frequent software updates than those who have purchased Office 2016 without a subscription, which means subscribers have access to the latest features, security patches and bug fixes. But it can be hard to keep track of the changes in each update and know when they’re available. We’re doing this for you, so you don’t have to.

Following are key updates to Office 365 for Windows since Office 2016 was released in September 2015 — all the 2017 updates and the most important ones from 2016 and late 2015, with the latest releases shown first. We’ll add info about new updates as they’re rolled out.

Note: This story covers updates released to regular Office 365 for Windows subscribers. If you’re a member of Microsoft’s Office Insider preview program or want to get a sneak peek at upcoming features, see the company’s “What’s new for Office Insiders” page.

Version 2001 (Build 12430.20184)

Release date: January 30, 2020

This update includes new features for Excel, Outlook and Word, along with bug fixes. In Excel, you can now respond to comments and mentions from within email without opening the workbook. Excel also gets a new XLOOKUP function that lets you search in a table by range or row. A new group naming policy in Outlook lets IT admins standardize and manage the names of groups created by users in an organization. Word now lets you save shapes as pictures and use the Lasso tool on the Draw tab to help select objects drawn with ink.

A bug has been fixed in Access that can cause Access to fail to identify an Identity Column in a linked SQL Server table, which can cause rows to be reported as deleted incorrectly. Also fixed was a bug in Excel and Outlook that caused users to experience crashes when renaming a signature.

Get more info about Version 2001 (Build 12430.20184).

Version 1912 (Build 12325.20344)

Release date: January 22, 2020

This very minor update resolves a single issue in which Microsoft Access failed to identify an Identity Column in a linked SQL Server table, which could have caused rows to be reported as deleted incorrectly.

Get more info about Version 1912 (Build 12325.20344).

Version 1912 (Build 12325.20298)

Release date: January 14, 2020

This security update addresses security issues in Excel and the entire Office suite. It plugs holes in three Microsoft Excel Remote Code Execution Vulnerabilities, and one in a Microsoft Office Memory Corruption Vulnerability. Find more details in the security release notes.

What IT needs to know: Because this is a security update, it should be applied relatively soon. Over the next few weeks, check for reports about problematic issues, and if all seems well, apply the update.

Get more info about Version 1912 (Build 12325.20298).

Version 1912 (Build 12325.20288)

Release date: January 8, 2019

This update includes a new feature that can create looping GIFs in PowerPoint, and new accessibility features for Outlook and PowerPoint. In PowerPoint, the new Accessibility Checker helps you arrange objects on your slides with screen readers in mind. And Outlook now displays an alert reminding you to make your content accessible when sending mail to a user who prefers accessible content.

There are also a variety of minor bug fixes, including fixing an issue in Outlook that caused users to experience hangs in Outlook when retrieving Cloud Settings, and an issue in Word in which the building blocks organizer had displayed an invalid alert: “You have modified styles, building blocks.”

Get more info about Version 1912 (Build 12325.20288).

Version 1911 (Build 12228.20364)

Release date: December 10, 2019

This update offers a few minor bug fixes and several security updates. It fixes the right-click menu for Excel’s Pivot Charts to enable the “Show Detail” option and also fixes an issue in Outlook that allowed web add-ins to access Digital Rights Managed messages.

Among the security updates are those that fix an Excel Information Disclosure Vulnerability, a Word Denial of Service Vulnerability and a PowerPoint Remote Code Execution Vulnerability. For details, see the security update release notes.

What IT needs to know: Because this is a security update, it should be applied relatively soon. Over the next few weeks, check for reports about problematic issues, and if all seems well, apply the update.

Get more info about Version 1911 (Build 12228.20364).

Version 1911 (Build 12228.20332)

Release date: December 3, 2019

This update offers a few minor features and fixes a variety of bugs. Six new functions have been added in Excel: FILTER, SORT, SORTBY, UNIQUE, SEQUENCE and RANDARRAY. Excel also now has a data visualizer add-on that can create flow charts in Visio. Word’s co-authoring capabilities have been improved, making it more likely changes will be seen by others in real time.

Among the bugs fixed are one that caused crashes when users searched for recent files in Excel while no workbook was open, and another in which Office updates unexpectedly downloaded files from the Office CDN instead of the intended source, such as a local or network share or Configuration Manager-provided location.

Get more info about Version 1911 (Build 12228.20332).

Version 1910 (Build 12130.20410)

Release date: November 22, 2019

Microsoft isn’t saying much about this update except that it includes “various [unnamed] bugs and performance fixes.”

Get more info about Version 1910 (Build 12130.20410).

Version 1910 (Build 12130.20390)

Release date: November 18, 2019

This update includes unnamed bug and performance fixes in Microsoft’s description. It also fixes two issues with Outlook, one that caused users to see the location field in meetings change unexpectedly, and another that caused users to see an empty message box with an “OK” button when trying to contact support from the Account Creation context.

Get more info about Version 1910 (Build 12130.20390).

Version 1910 (Build 12130.20344)

Release date: November 12, 2019

This security update comprises two fixes for Excel, including Remote Code Execution Vulnerability CVE-2019-1448 and Information Disclosure Vulnerability CVE-2019-1446, and two for the entire Office suite, including ClickToRun Security Feature Bypass Vulnerability CVE-2019-1449 and Information Disclosure Vulnerability CVE-2019-1402.

What IT needs to know: Because this is a security update, it should be applied relatively soon. Over the next few weeks, check for reports about problematic issues, and if all seems well, apply the update.

Get more info about Version 1910 (Build 12130.20344).

Version 1910 (Build 12130.20272)

Release date: October 30, 2019

This update introduces a wide variety of minor new features, including one for Excel, Word and PowerPoint that checks PDFs you create for accessibility issues and offers fixes, and another for Excel, Word, Outlook and PowerPoint that applies sensitivity labels to your documents and emails to keep them compliant with your organization’s information protection policies. Word also gets coauthoring improvements.

Get more info about Version 1910 (Build 12130.20272).

Version 1909 (Build 12026.20344)

Release date: October 22, 2019

This very minor non-security update fixes a bug in Microsoft Project, in which users could get several messages when opening a read-only project. And in order to protect Office users’ security, Microsoft Office updates are now being signed using the SHA-2 algorithm exclusively.

Get more info about Version 1909 (Build 12026.20344).

Version 1909 (Build 12026.20334)

Release date: October 14, 2019

This very minor non-security update fixes a single bug that affects the entire Office suite. The bug didn’t allow people to save Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents when they tried to create a new file and bring up the “Save as Model Dialog” option after clicking on the Save icon or pressing Ctrl + S.

Get more info about Version 1909 (Build 12026.20334).

NOTE: On Oct. 15, 2019, Microsoft released an unnamed update that temporarily disables the Cloud Save dialog to address the saving issue addressed on Oct. 14. Microsoft says the feature will be re-enabled soon.

Version 1909 (Build 12026.20320)

Release date: October 8, 2019

This build includes a security update and a number of minor bug fixes. In Outlook, several bugs were squashed, including one that wouldn’t allow people to open some instances of recurring calendar items, and another that caused Outlook to crash when a profile was being created. PowerPoint had an issue fixed that caused data loss when coauthoring and offline editing.  For the entire Office suite, several issues were fixed, including one that crashed Office when files were opened. In addition, Microsoft Updates are now signed using the SHA-2 algorithm exclusively in order to improve security.

There are also fixes for two Excel Remote Code Execution Vulnerabilities, detailed in CVE-2019-1327 and CVE-2019-1331.

What IT needs to know: Because this is a security update, it should be applied relatively soon. Over the next few weeks, check for reports about problematic issues, and if all seems well, apply the update.

Get more info about Version 1909 (Build 12026.20320).

Version 1909 (Build 12026.20264)

Release date: September 30, 2019

This build offers a variety of new features and fixes several bugs. In Outlook, it’s now easier and faster to update shared calendars. In addition, when you search through your mail, the most relevant email messages are now grouped at the top of the results.

PowerPoint lets you save illustrations as SVG files, and you can now animate an ink drawing so that it replays either forward or backward during the presentation. In Excel, Word, and PowerPoint you can now more easily share files by using the “recently used” list without having to open the file.

Get more info about Version 1909 (Build 12026.20264).

Version 1908 (Build 11929.20300)

Release date: September 10, 2019

This build offers several minor bug fixes and a security update. In Outlook, a bug was fixed that caused some users to encounter authentication errors when trying to retrieve their cloud settings. In PowerPoint, an issue was fixed that prevented some animations from starting. For the entire Office suite, an issue was fixed that caused large tree views to fail.

There are also security fixes for Excel and the entire Office suite, including a Microsoft Excel Information Disclosure Vulnerability, a Microsoft Excel Remote Code Execution Vulnerability, a Jet Database Engine Remote Code Execution Vulnerability affecting the entire suite, and a Microsoft Office Security Feature Bypass Vulnerability affecting the entire suite.

What IT needs to know: Because this is a security update, it should be applied relatively soon. Over the next few weeks, check for reports about problematic issues, and if all seems well, apply the update.

Get more info about Version 1908 (Build 11929.20300).

Version 1908 (Build 11929.20254)

Release date: August 26, 2019

This build offers a several new minor features throughout Office. You now have more control over text boxes and borders in Excel, Word and PowerPoint, and you can also more easily insert and manage icons in those applications as well as in Outlook. The entire Office suite also gets new icons. In addition, there are a variety of bug fixes.

Get more info about Version 1908 (Build 11929.20254).

Version 1907 (Build 11901.20218)

Release date: August 13, 2019

This build offers two minor bug fixes and a variety of security updates for Outlook, Word and the entire Office suite. Among the security issues fixed are remote code execution vulnerabilities in Outlook and Word and a Jet database engine remote code execution vulnerability in the entire Office suite. (See the security release notes for details.)

The non-security changes include fixing an issue in Outlook in which users having their mailbox upgraded from basic to modern authentication were ending up with the wrong account associated with their Outlook profile.

What IT needs to know: Because this is a security update, it should be applied relatively soon. Over the next few weeks, check for reports about problematic issues, and if all seems well, apply the update.

Get more info about Version 1907 (Build 11901.20218).

Version 1907 (Build 11901.20176)

Release date: July 29, 2019

This build offers a variety of new features for Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint and Word. It’s now easier to code using Power Query in Excel, with enhancements including autocomplete and syntax coloring. In Outlook, when you type a person’s name in the Search box, the most relevant email messages will now be included alongside your search suggestions. PowerPoint lets you save a video to Microsoft Stream, which lets you insert a streaming video instead of the entire file into a presentation to reduce file sizes. Word now has two different sized erasers so you can fix small inking imperfections.

In addition, Excel, PowerPoint and Word make it easier to create map charts, and also let you decide whether links to Office documents should open in the appropriate app or instead in a browser.

Get more info about Version 1907 (Build 11901.20176).

Version 1906 (Build 11727.20244)

Release date: July 9, 2019

This build has security updates for Excel, Outlook, Skype for Business and the entire Office suite. For details, see these release notes. In addition, there is a fix to an Outlook bug that caused the current folder search to intermittently fail.

What IT needs to know: Because this is a security update, it should be applied relatively soon. Over the next few weeks, check for reports about problematic issues, and if all seems well, apply the update.

Get more info about Version 1906 (Build 11727.20244).

Version 1906 (Build 11727.20230)

Release date: June 27, 2019

This extremely minor build has only a single change: It fixes an issue that caused a subset of POP3 users to see all of their emails formatted as plain text, regardless of their settings. Users who want to see their messages formatted with HTML can now do so.

Get more info about Version 1906 (Build 11727.20230).

Version 1906 (Build 11727.20210)

Release date: June 24, 2019

This build offers a variety of new features for several Office applications, primarily Outlook. Outlook gets a simplified Ribbon that tames its frequently complex interface. (The simplified Ribbon has been available in a preview for quite some time, but now is officially launched.) In addition, you can now synchronize more than 500 folders when syncing shared mailboxes. The previous limit was 500. The quick action menu can also be customized.

You can now insert 3D animated graphics into Excel. In Word, multiple people can co-author documents in the open, XML-based.docm format. And in Skype, you can crop video in a meeting on a 4K monitor when the “Crop and Center my video in meetings” setting is turned on.

There are also a number of undocumented bugs and performance fixes, according to Microsoft.

Get more info about Version 1906 (Build 11727.20210).

Version 1905 (Build 11629.20246)

Release date: June 11, 2019

This build addresses two security holes in Word, remote code execution vulnerabilities CVE-2019-1034 and CVE-2019-1035.

What IT needs to know: Because this is a security update, it should be applied soon. Over the next few weeks, check for reports about problematic issues, and if all seems well, apply the update.

Get more info about Version 1905 (Build 11629.20246).

Version 1905 (Build 11629.20214)

Release date: June 4, 2019

This build fixes a single, minor issue, one in which some add-ins caused unexpected errors to appear around shapes in PowerPoint charts.

Get more info about Version 1905 (Build 11629.20214).

Version 1905 (Build 11629.20196)

Release date: May 29, 2019

This build introduces minor new features to multiple Office applications. In Word, PowerPoint and Excel, if you @mention people in document comments, they will automatically receive an email notification that they’ve been mentioned, so they can check out the comments. Across all Office applications except Outlook, a new account manager is available; it displays all Office 365 work and personal accounts in a single location, making it easier to switch among them.

In addition, in PowerPoint, presenters’ words are automatically shown on screen as captions and can be translated into subtitles in the language of your choice. In Outlook, it’s now easier to add Outlook.com and Gmail accounts that use two-factor authentication.

Get more info about Version 1905 (Build 11629.20196).

Version 1904 (Build 11601.20204)

Release date: May 14, 2019

This build includes security fixes for a Microsoft Word Remote Code Execution Vulnerability, a Microsoft Office Access Connectivity Engine Remote Code Execution Vulnerability and a Microsoft Office Access Connectivity Engine Remote Code Execution Vulnerability. Go to the release notes for Office 365 ProPlus Security Updates for more details.

What IT needs to know: Because this is a security update, it should be applied soon. Over the next few weeks, check for reports about problematic issues, and if all seems well, apply the update.

Get more info about Version 1904 (Build 11601.20204).

Version 1904 (Build 11601.20178)

Release date: May 8, 2019

This build includes “various bugs and performances fixes,” in Microsoft’s words, that Microsoft hasn’t provided any details on.

Get more info about Version 1904 (Build 11601.20178).

Version 1904 (Build 11601.20144)

Release date: April 29, 2019

This build includes a few minor updates. The most notable is the ability to find files by typing into the Search box on the File > Home page in Excel, PowerPoint and Word. The entire Office 365 suite sports a new set of icons, and the suite also gets an updated set of privacy controls, covering things such as the types of diagnostic data sent to Microsoft. Administrators, not Office users, have control over setting them. Here’s an overview of the new settings.

Get more info about Version 1904 (Build 11601.20144).

Version 1903 (Build 11425.20244)

Release date: April 23, 2019

This build includes “various bugs and performances fixes,” in Microsoft’s words, that Microsoft hasn’t provided any details on.

Get more info about  Version 1903 (Build 11425.20244).

Version 1903 (Build 11425.20228)

Release date: April 17, 2019

This build includes “various bugs and performances fixes,” in Microsoft’s words, that Microsoft hasn’t provided any details on.

Get more info about Version 1903 (Build 11425.20228).

Version 1903 (Build 11425.20218)

Release date: April 16, 2019

This build includes “various bugs and performances fixes,” in Microsoft’s words, that Microsoft hasn’t provided any details on.

Get more info about Version 1903 (Build 11425.20218).

Version 1903 (Build 11425.20204)

Release date: April 9, 2019

This build includes security updates for Excel and the entire office suite. Among the holes fixed are the Microsoft Excel Remote Code Execution Vulnerability, the Microsoft Graphics Components Remote Code Execution Vulnerability, and the Microsoft Office Access Connectivity Engine Remote Code Execution Vulnerability. For details, go to the security update’s release notes.

What IT needs to know: Because this is a security update, it should be applied soon. Over the next few days, check for reports about problematic issues, and if all seems well, apply the update.

Get more info about Version 1903 (Build 11425.20202).

Version 1903 (Build 11425.20202)

Release date: April 1, 2019

This build includes minor updates for Excel, PowerPoint and Word. All three of them now have an accessibility checker which examines documents to see how accessible they are, and offers suggestions if they’re not. Go to Review > Check Accessibility to try it out. In addition, PowerPoint gives you more control over how its Morph feature works.

Get more info about  Version 1903 (Build 11425.20202).

Version 1902 (Build 11328.20158)

Release date: March 12, 2019

This build includes very minor bug and performance fixes — so minor that Microsoft has not detailed what they are.

Get more info about Version 1902 (Build 11328.20158).

Version 1902 (Build 11328.20146)

Release date: March 4, 2019

This build adds a variety of features to several Office applications. It’s now easier in PowerPoint to insert videos from YouTube and Vimeo. You can also hand-draw math expressions in PowerPoint and have them turned into standard characters.

Outlook lets you set meetings to end five to ten minutes early by default, so that people can easily attend back-to-back meetings. Outlook can now also read mail aloud. Excel lets you use @mentions in comments to let co-workers know when you’re looking for their input. And a new Ideas button in Excel lets you look for patterns in your data and uses them to create personalized suggestions for how to use the data.

Access now clearly lets you see the active tab, easily drag tabs to rearrange them, and close database objects with a click.

Get more info about Version 1902 (Build 11328.20146).

Version 1901 (Build 11231.20130)

Release date: January 31, 2019

This minor build includes small changes to Excel, Outlook, Visio and the entire Office suite. A reply box has been added to Excel, making it easier to make comments during collaboration. Outlook now lets you use animated GIFs in your emails. Visio gets a series of Azure stencils so you can design a cloud app or plan a cloud architecture. And the entire Office suite now allows Office add-ins to insert graphics in SVG format.

Get more info about Version 1901 (Build 11231.20130).

Version 1812 (Build 11126.20266)

Release date: January 14, 2019

This minor build addresses performance issues.

Get more info about Version 1812 (Build 11126.20266).

Version 1812 (Build 11126.20196)

Release date: January 8, 2019

This build includes both security fixes and a minor bug fix. The bug was an issue in Project in which you couldn’t uncheck the Critical, Late and Slack bar styles for the Gantt chart after you had checked one of them.

Security patches include closing an information disclosure vulnerability in Outlook, fixing a remote execution vulnerability and an information disclosure vulnerability in Word, and closing a remote code execution vulnerability for the entire Office suite.

What IT needs to know: Because this is a security update, it should be applied soon. Over the next few days, check for reports about problematic issues, and if all seems well, apply the update.

Get more info about non-security changes in Version 1812 (Build 11126.20196) and security fixes in Version 1812 (Build 11126.20196).

Version 1812 (Build 11126.20188)

Release date: January 3, 2019

This build offers minor improvements to several Office applications. In Word, you can now use a feature called line focus that lets you move through a document with one, three, or five lines in view at a time. A new feature also lets you create a web page from a Word document by going to File > Transform > Transform to Web Page.

PowerPoint now lets you convert your ink to standard shapes and text, then get smart slide-design ideas from PowerPoint Designer. Outlook has new options for encrypting messages. And Word, Excel and PowerPoint all now let you keep track of accessibility issues in your documents without having to keep the accessibility checker open all the time.

Get more info about Version 1812 (Build 11126.20188).

Version 1811 (Build 11029.20108)

Release date: December 11, 2018

This build focuses only on security updates, including fixing two Microsoft Excel Remote Code Execution Vulnerabilities, two Microsoft Excel Information Disclosure Vulnerabilities, a Microsoft Outlook Remote Code Execution Vulnerability and a Microsoft PowerPoint Remote Code Execution Vulnerability.

What IT needs to know: Because this is a security update, it should be applied soon. Over the next few days, check for reports about problematic issues, and if all seems well, apply the update.

Get more info about Version 1811 (Build 11029.20108).

Version 1811 (Build 11029.20079)

Release date: November 27, 2018

This build adds several minor features to Outlook, including letting you sort mail by flag status when using Focused Inbox and integrating the Focused Inbox better with search. PowerPoint now lets you add slide numbers to printed handouts. And for the entire Office suite, the Share, Copy Path to Clipboard, and Open File Location buttons are now more visible and more easily accessible.

Get more info about Version 1811 (Build 11029.20079).

Version 1810 (Build 11001.20074)

Release date: October 29, 2018

This build introduces new features throughout Office. In Excel, you’ll now be able to use a reply box to add and reply to comments in cells. You can also more easily edit text and formulas by using Ctrl-A to select text in a cell or the formula bar. In Outlook, it’s now easier to reserve a room via the calendar and to set your calendar to automatically dismiss reminders for events after they’ve ended.

PowerPoint gets new proofing tools. In addition, PowerPoint now takes rough, hand-drawn text and shapes it into finished diagrams. In Word, you can insert animated 3D graphics into documents.

In Access, Publisher, Project and Visio, Ribbon icons have gotten a new look. And in Excel, PowerPoint and Word you can change the opacity of a picture to, for example, allow text or information behind a picture to be visible.

Get more info about Version 1810 (Build 11001.20074).

Version 1809 (Build 10827.20181)

Release date: October 16, 2018

This non-security build fixes a variety of performance issues throughout the Office suite.

Get more info about Version 1809 (Build 10827.20181).

Version 1809 (Build 10827.20150)

Release date: October 9, 2018

This build focuses only on security updates, including fixing a Microsoft Excel Remote Code Execution Vulnerability, a Microsoft PowerPoint Remote Code Execution Vulnerability, a Microsoft Word Remote Code Execution Vulnerability, a Microsoft Graphics Components Remote Code Execution Vulnerability for the entire suite, and Microsoft Office Defense in Depth Updates for Outlook and Word.

What IT needs to know: Because this is a security update, it should be applied soon. Over the next few days, check for reports about problematic issues, and if all seems well, apply the update.

Get more info about Version 1809 (Build 10827.20150).

Version 1809 (Build 10827.20138)

Release date: September 27, 2018

This update offers new features for Excel, Word, PowerPoint and Outlook, summarized below.

Excel

  • A new Ideas pane, which Microsoft says is powered by AI, analyzes your data and displays visuals about it, and offers suggestions on what to do with it.
  • Get & Transform has been tweaked by improving its connectors and the Column from Example feature.
  • Ribbon icons have a new look.
  • VLOOKUP, HLOOKUP, and MATCH calculations have been sped up.

Word

  • You can now use @mentions in comments to let collaborators know you want their input.
  • Equation Editor Converter lets you convert equations created using Microsoft Equation editor to Office Math ML format so they can be edited.
  • Ribbon icons have a new look.

PowerPoint

  • You can now insert animated 3D graphics in slides.
  • PowerPoint now has proofreading tools that offer grammar and writing suggestions.
  • Ribbon icons have a new look.

Outlook

  • Safe Links protect you from malicious URLs you receive, but they hide the original URL. You can now hover your mouse over a URL to see the original URL, even in links protected by Safe Links.
  • After you do a search, Outlook provides a suggested search query with spelling corrections.
  • A Coming Soon tool lets you try new features before they’re released.
  • Ribbon icons have a new look.

Get more info about Version 1809 (Build 10827.20138).

Version 1808 (Build 10730.20102)

Release date: September 11, 2018

This security update fixes four security issues: a Remote Code Execution Vulnerability and an Information Disclosure Vulnerability in Excel, a PDF Remote Code Execution Vulnerability in Word, and Win32k Graphics Remote Code Execution Vulnerability in the entire Office suite.

What IT needs to know: Because this is a security update, it should be applied soon. Over the next few days, check for reports about problematic issues, and if all seems well, apply the update.

Get more info about Version 1808 (Build 10730.20102).

Version 1808 (Build 10730.20088)

Release date: September 5, 2018

This non-security update adds a variety of minor new features and fixes for several Office applications. In Outlook you can prevent people forwarding your meeting invitation. Visio gets 26 new stencils and lets you add diagram content, including shapes and metadata, to a Word document, then customize it to create process guidelines and operation manuals. The update also fixes an issue in Excel in which the dotted line marking the range of cells selected for copying does not disappear and remains in the clipboard even after a subsequent user operation like paste.

Get more info about Version 1808 (Build 10730.20088).

Version 1807 (Build 10325.20118)

Release date: August 14, 2018

This security update fixes vulnerabilities in Access, Excel, Outlook, and the entire Office suite. In Access there’s a fix for a remote code execution vulnerability (CVE-2018-8312), in Outlook there’s an update for Microsoft Office Defense in Depth (ADV180021), and in the Office suite, there’s a fix for an information disclosure vulnerability (CVE-2018-8378). Excel gets three security fixes: two remote code execution vulnerabilities (CVE-2018-8375 and CVE-2018-8379), and an information disclosure vulnerability (CVE-2018-8382).

What IT needs to know: Because this is a security update, it should be applied soon. Over the next few days, check for reports about problematic issues, and if all seems well, apply the update.

Get more info about Version 1807 (Build 10325.20118).

Version 1806 (Build 10228.20104)

Release date: July 10, 2018

This security update fixes three vulnerabilities: a Microsoft Access Remote Code Execution Use After Free Vulnerability in Access, a Microsoft Office Tampering Vulnerability in Outlook, and a Microsoft Office Remote Code Execution Vulnerability for the entire Office suite.

What IT needs to know: Because this is a security update, it should be applied soon. Over the next few days, check for reports about problematic issues, and if all seems well, apply the update.

Get more info about Version 1806 (Build 10228.20104).

Version 1806 (Build 10228.20080)

Release date: June 25, 2018

This non-security update gives Office a variety of new features. In Excel, you can use Ctrl-A to select text in a cell or the formula bar. There’s also improved support for emojis and other complex characters. In PowerPoint, you can title your slides using a pen, and Project keeps a running list of where you’ve saved other projects. The way in which you create recurring appointments in Outlook has been tweaked — “End by” rather than “No end date” is now the default setting. Visio gets more stencils and more icons. And support for Scalable Vector Graphics (SVGs) has been added to Excel, PowerPoint, and Word.

Get more info about Version 1806 (Build 10228.20080).

Version 1805 (Build 9330.2118)

Release date: June 12, 2018

This release has on several security updates and two non-security fixes. Two security holes are fixed in Excel: a Microsoft Excel Information Disclosure Vulnerability and a Microsoft Excel Remote Code Execution Vulnerability. One security hole is fixed in Outlook: a Microsoft Outlook Elevation of Privilege Vulnerability.

In addition, a non-security issue has been fixed in Outlook in which an application calling the MAPI API could result in a crash. In Project, a non-security issue has been fixed in which users are blocked from saving a subproject when working with them through the context of a master project.

What IT needs to know: Because this is a security update, it should be applied soon. Over the next few days, check for reports about problematic issues, and if all seems well, apply the update.

Get more info about Version 1805 (Build 9330.2118).

Version 1805 (Build 9330.2087)

Release date: May 24, 2018

This extremely minor non-security update fixes a single issue, in which Outlook crashes when using the iCloud add-in.

Get more information about Version 1805 (Build 9330.2087).

Version 1805 (Build 9330.2078)

Release date: May 23, 2018

This update introduces a number of new minor features throughout Office. You can now chat with co-authors when collaborating in Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Voice input for a variety of purposes has been added to Outlook, PowerPoint and Word. Word now lets you use pen input to split or join words, add a new line, or insert words. Access gets 11 new charts for visualizing data. In Visio, the Organization Chart, Brainstorming, and SDL templates have new starter diagrams. In Outlook, you can more easily share your calendars. In addition, calendars shared from Outlook Desktop are now also available in Outlook Mobile.

Get more information about Version 1805 (Build 9330.2078).

Version 1804 (Build 9226.2156)

Release date: May 14, 2018

This extremely minor, non-security update fixes a single issue in which, when you open an application, you might see a message about launching in Safe mode and then the application fails to open.

Get more information about Version 1804 (Build 9226.2156).

Version 1804 (Build 9226.2126)

Release date: May 8, 2018

This security update addresses issues in Excel, Outlook and the entire Office suite. It fixes several Microsoft Excel Remote Code Execution Vulnerabilities and a Microsoft Excel Information Disclosure Vulnerability. In Outlook, a Security Feature Bypass Vulnerability is patched. And in the overall Office suite, two Remote Code Execution Vulnerabilities are fixed.

What IT needs to know: Because this is a security update, it should be applied soon. Over the next few days, check for reports about problematic issues, and if all seems well, apply the update.

Get more information about Version 1804 (Build 9226.2126).

Version 1804 (Build 9226.2114)

Release date: April 25, 2018

This update includes a variety of minor feature enhancements. Outlook can now read your email to you. You can also set reminders in Outlook to pop up over windows in which you’re working. There’s also a new option for encrypting messages.

PowerPoint can now convert scribbled notes and drawings into readable text and crisp shapes. In Project, you can now switch from one sprint view to another, and quickly move tasks between sprints. And in Word, the Editor pane now displays an overview of proofing issues found in a document, so you can focus on fixing the ones that are most relevant to you.

Get more information about Version 1804 (Build 9226.2114).

Version 1803 (Build 9126.2152)

Release date: April 11, 2018

This update addresses a variety of security problems and fixes a number of small issues. It fixes a Microsoft Excel Remote Code Execution Vulnerability as well as two Office-wide Microsoft Office Remote Code Execution Vulnerabilities and an Office-wide Microsoft Office Information Disclosure Vulnerability. PowerPoint gets several non-security fixes, including one in which multiple users co-authoring the same presentation caused an incorrect duplication of slide masters. Word received a fix for an issue in which insufficient memory messages appeared.

What IT needs to know: Because this is a security update, it should be applied soon. Over the next few days, check for reports about problematic issues, and if all seems well, apply the update.

Get more information about Version 1803 (Build 9126.2152).

Version 1803 (Build 9126.2116)

Release date: March 27, 2018

This non-security update fixes a number of small issues and adds several minor features. Microsoft Translator is now available from directly inside Excel and PowerPoint. Word, PowerPoint and Visio get improved support for high-definition displays. Several issues have been fixed in Excel, including one in which Quick Print of an Excel workbook attached to an Outlook email sometimes didn’t print, and another where using cube functions caused Excel to crash. And Outlook will now issue a blind carbon copy (Bcc) warning if you choose Reply All to a message that you were Bcc’ed on.

Get more information about Version 1803 (Build 9126.2116).

Version 1802 (Build 9029.2253)

Release date: March 13, 2018

This security update fixes vulnerabilities in Access, Excel and Word. A Microsoft Access Remote Code Execution Vulnerability was closed in Access, a Microsoft Office Excel Security Feature Bypass was closed in Excel, and a Microsoft Office Information Disclosure Vulnerability was closed in Word.

What IT needs to know: Because this is a security update, it should be applied soon. Over the next few days, check for reports about problematic issues, and if all seems well, apply the update.

Get more information about Version 1802 (Build 9029.2253).

Version 1802 (Build 9029.2167)

Release date: February 26, 2018

This minor non-security update fixes a few minor bugs and adds several minor features. Among the new features are one in Outlook in which you can now see other people’s responses to meeting requests, even if you not the meeting organizer. In addition, Visio has a new database model diagram template that will let you accurately model your database as a Visio diagram. Among the issues fixed is one in which  Skype for Business hangs when using the “call using conference center” option to invite users from the roster.

Get more information about Version 1802 (Build 9029.2167)

Version 1801 (Build 9001.2171)

Release date: February 13, 2018

This security update fixes vulnerabilities in Excel, Outlook, and the entire Office suite. In Excel, it targets a remote code execution vulnerability, and in Outlook it fixes an elevation of privilege vulnerability and a memory corruption vulnerability. For the entire Office suite, it fixes a memory corruption vulnerability and an information disclosure vulnerability.

What IT needs to know: Because this is a security update, it should be applied soon. Over the next few days, check for reports about problematic issues, and if all seems well, apply the update.

Get more information about Version 1801 (Build 9001.2171).

Version 1801 (Build 9001.2144)

Release date: February 7, 2018

This extremely minor, non-security update fixes only one very small bug in Excel: an issue in which if your editing language is Japanese, Chinese, or Korean, Excel may freeze when you try to choose a new font on the Home tab or when you edit.

Get more information about Version 1801 (Build 9001.2144).

Version 1801 (Build 9001.2138)

Release date: February 1, 2018

This minor, non-security update fixes small bugs in Project and Skype for Business. Among the bugs fixed in Project is one in which the “Progress point shape” is drawn at an unexpected location, and another in which Actual Work is still shown in the reporting tables after being removed in a Save for Sharing session.

Among the bugs fixed in Skype for Business is one in which “More Options” and “Invite More People” buttons are hidden when a meeting is in full-screen mode, and another in which the P2P audio call window or conference call window becomes transparent when you attempt to join.

Get more information about Version 1801 (Build 9001.2138).

Version 1712 (Build 8827.2179)

Release date: January 30, 2018

This minor, non-security update fixes two small bugs. In Excel, an issue was fixed in which scroll bars were missing when a workbook was opened with Excel minimized. In Outlook, an issue was fixed in which search failed with “No matches found” when search was set to All Mailboxes.

Get more information about Version 1712 (Build 8827.2179).

Version 1712 (Build 8827.2148)

Release date: January 17, 2018

This non-security update adds a variety of minor features throughout the Office suite. Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Visio, and Word can now transform SVG pictures and icons into Office shapes so their color, size, and texture can be changed. An issue was fixed in Excel in which workbook references failed when opening multiple workbooks by double-clicking on the file names in File Explorer. In PowerPoint, you can add animations to 3D models. Skype for Business gets a number of minor additions, including a new call transfer button in the toast user interface for incoming PSTN calls.

Get more information about Version 1712 (Build 8827.2148).

Version 1711 (Build 8730.2175)

Release date: January 9, 2018

This security update fixes 14 security holes in Outlook, Excel, Word and the entire Office suite. It fixes a number of separate remote code execution vulnerabilities in each of those applications and the entire suite, in which an attacker can run arbitrary code or take control of the entire system if the current user is logged on with administrative user rights. It also fixes several memory corruption vulnerabilities in Word, which would allow an attacker to take control of the entire system if the current user is logged on with administrative user rights.

What IT needs to know: Because this is a security update, it should be applied soon. Over the next few days, check for reports about problematic issues, and if all seems well, apply the update.

Get more information about Version 1711 (Build 8730.2175).

Version 1711 (Build 8730.2165)

Release date: January 2, 2018

This very minor update fixes two bugs. It resolves a PowerPoint issue in which removing document properties and personal information prevents saving to SharePoint. And it fixes a Project issue in which VBA code gets lost from projects.

Get more information about Version 1711 (Build 8730.2165).

Version 1711 (Build 8730.2127)

Release date: December 12, 2017

This security update fixes one vulnerability in Outlook and one in PowerPoint. It fixes the Microsoft Office Information Disclosure Vulnerability in Outlook, in which an attacker could potentially extract plain-text content from DRM-protected draft emails because Outlook failed to enforce copy/paste permissions on them. It also fixes a Microsoft PowerPoint Information Disclosure Vulnerability that would allow an attacker to craft a special document file, convince a user to open it, and then compromise the user’s computer and its data.

What IT needs to know: Because this is a security update, it should be applied soon. Over the next few days, check for reports about problematic issues, and if all seems well, apply the update.

Get more information about Version 1711 (Build 8730.2127).

Version 1711 (Build 8730.2122)

Release date: December 6, 2017

This non-security update adds two very minor features and has a variety of bug fixes. In PowerPoint, when you export a presentation to video, you can now save it in Ultra HD (4K) resolution. In Word, you can have the status bar display a document’s word count as you type. Enable the option from the Customize Status Bar menu.

Project has six bug fixes, including one where the application hangs when using the Task Path feature, and another in which you can’t drag tasks in the Timeline and Team Planner view. Skype for Business has nine bug fixes, including for one in which LinkedIn data does not appear in the Skype for Business Contact Card, and another in which in Conversation History, the caller is shown instead of the called person. This would happen when the called person’s work number is modified using Active Directory.

Get more information about Version 1711 (Build 8730.2122).

Version 1710 (Build 8625.2139)

Release date: November 22, 2017

This extremely minor update has only two bug fixes. It fixes an issue in which users incorrectly see a “catastrophic failure” error message when opening an Office 2007 or older workbook (.xls or .xla) with macros. And it also fixes a bug in which Office crashes when users try to activate Office using the Activate Office dialog box.

Get more information about Version 1710 (Build 8625.2139).

Version 1710 (Build 8625.2132)

Release date: November 20, 2017

This update focuses on minor bug fixes, including one in which Excel crashes when a user tries to insert an object in an existing workbook and clicks Browse, and another in Excel in which the dialog box to enter the password to unlock a protected range isn’t visible. The entire Office suite also received minor bug fixes for several issues, including one with zooming and scaling in Office Add-ins under dynamic DPI environment.

Get more information about Version 1710 (Build 8625.2132).

Version 1710 (Build 8625.2127)

Release date: November 14, 2017

This update focuses primarily on security. Included are three fixes to Excel security holes, including two memory corruption vulnerabilities and one security feature bypass vulnerability. In addition, Word and the entire Office suite received security fixes. Also included is a fix to a bug in Excel in which users couldn’t close a workbook in protected view when the file name contained square brackets.

What IT needs to know: Because this is a security update, it should be applied soon. Over the next few days, check for reports about problematic issues, and if all seems well, apply the update.

Get more information about Version 1710 (Build 8625.2127).

Version 1710 (Build 8625.2121)

Release date: November 2, 2017

This non-security feature update adds a few minor capabilities and fixes several issues. Word, PowerPoint and Excel all get a new pencil-like digital pen texture. You can also now use Microsoft Translator from directly in Word and translate words, phrases or the entire document. Project gets a variety of bug fixes, including one in which graphical indicators weren’t displaying correctly.

Get more information about Version 1710 (Build 8625.2121).

Version 1709 (Build 8528.2139)

Release date: October 16, 2017

This non-security feature update adds a few minor capabilities and fixes a number of bugs. Word gets a SharePoint property panel that lets you display and edit SharePoint document library column values from within a document via a new button on the View tab. In PowerPoint, you can now run a slideshow using a digital pen on a touchscreen device — a feature that requires the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update. Among the bugs fixed is one in which Project can crash when going to reports that contain several images.

Get more information about Version 1709 (Build 8528.2139).

Version 1708 (Build 8431.2107)

Release date: October 10, 2017

This security update plugs holes in Outlook, Word and the entire Office suite.  Outlook gets two fixes, one for a security feature bypass vulnerability and another for an information disclosure vulnerability. Word gets one security fix, for a memory corruption vulnerability, and the entire suite gets one for a remote code execution vulnerability.

What IT needs to know: Because of the security fixes in this update, it should be applied soon. Over the next few days, check for reports about problematic issues, and if all seems well, apply the update.

Get more information about Version 1708 (Build 8431.2107).

Version 1708 (Build 8431.2094)

Release date: October 4, 2017

This non-security, non-feature update fixes a wide variety of bugs – 10 in Excel alone. Among the Excel fixes is one where Excel crashes when opening an .XLL file, and another in which the AutoSave toggle isn’t visible. In Outlook, one of the issues fixed is when Outlook crashes when the user is trying to set up a new account and they close the window without completing the account setup. Word, PowerPoint and Access also get a variety of miscellaneous fixes.

And several issues were fixed with the entire Office suite, including one in which Office file properties aren’t displayed in File Explorer, and another in which Office add-in buttons disappear from the ribbon when there is a second document open.

Get more information about Version 1708 (Build 8431.2094).

Version 1708 (Build 8431.2079)

Release date: Sept. 18, 2017

This update adds new features and fixes a variety of bugs. You can now add 3D objects to Excel, Word, Outlook and PowerPoint that you can rotate 360 degrees and tilt up and down. Excel, Word and PowerPoint also get new ink effects with metallic pens including rainbow, galaxy, lava, ocean, gold and silver. Access has two new connectors to Microsoft Dynamics and Salesforce. A number of miscellaneous, minor bugs have been fixed in Project and Skype, including one in Project in which the status field doesn’t always calculate correctly for summary tasks, and one in Skype in which unread messages in persistent chat rooms are marked as read when you click IM conversation tabs.

Get more information about Version 1708 (Build 8431.2079).

Version 1707 (Build 8326.2107)

Release date: Sept. 12, 2017

This update focuses primarily on security issues, and includes security patches for Excel, PowerPoint, Skype and the entire Office suite. Among the fixes are two that have to do with memory corruption vulnerabilities in Excel, and two with remote code execution vulnerabilities in PowerPoint. Excel and PowerPoint also get minor, non-security patches.

What IT needs to know: Because of the security fixes in this update, it should be applied soon. Over the next few days, check for reports about problematic issues, and if all seems well, apply the update.

Get more information about Version 1707 (Build 8326.2107).

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Version 1707 (Build 8326.2096)

Release date: Aug. 29, 2017

This extremely small non-security update fixes only a single issue, in which end-user defined characters (EUDCs) that are linked to fonts fail to display.

Get more information about Version 1707 (Build 8326. 2096).

Version 1707 (Build 8326.2087)

Release date: Aug. 24, 2017

This very minor non-security update fixes one issue in Visio and three that affect the entire Office suite. In Visio, the bug squashed occurred when COM add-ins don’t receive document opened events when a Visio file is opened by a double-click on a file icon or file name. The overall Office fixes include one in which hovering over a Common Control with a tooltip on it caused the application you’re using to crash.

Get more information about Version 1707 (Build 8326. 2087).

Version 1707 (Build 8326.2076)

Release date: Aug. 18, 2017

This very minor non-security update fixes two issues in Outlook and two in Word. In Outlook, it fixes a problem that causes intermittent crashes when opening Outlook, and another that makes it impossible to configure an IMAP account in Outlook. In Word, it fixes a problem that causes Word to crash when recovering cloud-based files, and another in which Word closes unexpectedly when loading the Grammarly add-in.

Get more information about Version 1707 (Build 8326.2076).

Version 1707 (Build 8326.2073)

Release date: Aug. 11, 2017

This extremely minor non-security update fixes only one Excel issue, in which a data refresh doesn’t succeed or Excel crashes when using data from a SQL Server Analysis Services server and the locale of Excel and the locale of the SQL Server Analysis Services server differ.

Get more information about Version 1707 (Build 8326.2073).

Version 1705 (Build 8201.2171)

Release date: Aug. 8, 2017

This extremely minor non-security update fixes only three small issues, including one that prevents the What’s New dialog from appearing, and another with how some program files are signed, causing anti-virus programs to flag those files and have problems protecting or accessing data under Windows Information Protection (WIP). Also fixed is an Outlook issue that occurs when the scrollbar is dragged to move through a list of messages.

Get more information about Version 1705 (Build 8201.2171).

Version 1707 (Build 8326.2062)

Release date: July 31, 2017

This extremely minor non-security update fixes only one problem, an issue with Skype for Business in which non-English characters in chat and chat history are garbled.

Get more information about Version 1707 (Build 8326.2062).

Version 1707 (Build 8326.2059)

Release date: July 28, 2017

This extremely minor update fixes an issue with how some program files are signed, causing antivirus programs to flag those files as potentially dangerous. It also fixes problems protecting or accessing data under Windows Information Protection (WIP).

Get more information about Version 1707 (Build 8326.2059).

Version 1707 (Build 8326.2058)

Release date: July 27, 2017

The big news in this feature update is that Excel finally gets the collaborative editing features that Word and PowerPoint have had since Office 2016 was released nearly two years ago, in September 2015. People can now simultaneously work on a workbook, seeing each other’s edits. Excel also gets an AutoSave button, which when turned on automatically saves workbooks. PowerPoint gets the same feature. Also new in PowerPoint is that slides that have been modified by others are highlighted in a color, to make it easier to see at a glance which have been changed.

Other Office applications get a variety of minor additions, such as data connectors in Access now being able to import data from or link to data stored in Microsoft Dynamics or Salesforce. In Word, you can now create and edit equations using LaTeX syntax.

What IT needs to know: This update includes several security fixes for Outlook. Because of the security fixes, the update should be applied soon. Over the next few days, check for reports about problematic issues, and if all seems well, apply the update.

Get more information about Version 1707 (Build 8326.2058).

Version 1706 (Build 8229.2103)

Release date: July 19, 2017

This non-security update fixes a variety of very minor bugs, including one in Excel in which errors appear when trying to save changes to documents synced with the OneDrive client. The update also fixes a bug in Word that prevents shapes within the drawing canvas from being rotated.

Get more information about Version 1706 (Build 8229.2103).

Version 1706 (Build 8229.2086)

Release date: July 13, 2017

This security update fixes two security vulnerabilities in Excel and one in the Office suite overall. Both holes in Excel are memory corruption vulnerabilities. Attackers who exploit either could run arbitrary code as the current user. If the current user is logged on with administrative user rights, an attacker could take control of the system. The overall Office hole is a remote code execution vulnerability, which would also allow attackers to take control of the system if the current user is logged on with administrative user rights.

What IT needs to know: Because this is a security update, it should be applied soon. Over the next few days, check for reports about problematic issues, and if all seems well, apply the update.

Get more information about Version 1706 (Build 8229.2086).

Version 1706 (Build 8229.2073)

Release date: June 28, 2017

This feature update lets you choose a personal set of pens, highlighters and pencils in Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Choose them for one of the applications, and the same ones become available in the other two. In addition, when you insert pictures from the internet in Word, Excel and PowerPoint, attribution information for the pictures is inserted along with the pictures themselves.

In PowerPoint, when you create a chart, Designer will recommend designs for it based on the slide type and content in it. Excel gets a small Ribbon addition: You can now insert superscripts or subscripts by choosing Effects from the Font group on the Ribbon. You can also add subscripts and superscripts to the Quick Access toolbar. In addition, Outlook has gotten a new wizard for setting up new email accounts.

Get more information about Version 1706 (Build 8229.2073).

Version 1705 (Build 8201.2102)

Release date: June 13, 2017

This security update closes a variety of holes in Outlook, Skype for Business, Word, and the overall Office suite, including remote code execution vulnerabilities in Outlook, Word and Office. The update also fixes a minor bug in Excel in which Excel doesn’t set the sheet protection password when applied programmatically for workbooks created in Excel 2010 or earlier.

What IT needs to know: Because this is a security update, it should be applied soon. Over the next few days, check for reports about problematic issues, and if all seems well, apply the update.

Get more information about Version 1705 (Build 8201.2102).

Version 1705 (Build 8201.2075)

Release date: June 7, 2017

In this feature update, Excel gets a few small additions, including rearranged buttons on the Ribbon’s Data tab and the ability to export any query definition into an Office Database Connection (ODC) file and then share it across workbooks or with others. PowerPoint lets you add closed captions to videos, and Designer now recommends design ideas for charts added to your slides.

Get more information about Version 1705 (Build 8201.2075).

Version 1704 (Build 8067.2157)

Release date: June 1, 2017

This update fixes two minor bugs in OneNote and Outlook, one where the Outlook navigation pane stops rendering when the PC is low on memory, and one in which the OneNote canvas hides content or updates when many paragraphs are in view.

Get more information about Version 1705 (Build 8201.2157).

Version 1704 (Build 8067.2115)

Release date: May 18, 2017

With this feature update, Excel users can now personalize the default PivotTable layout and more easily import data from various sources. Outlook gets a new “focused inbox” feature, which divides the inbox into two tabs, Focused and Other. The messages that Outlook determines are the most important are put into the Focused tab, based on the content of the messages and whether they’re from someone with whom you frequently interact. Also, in Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint and Word, you can now easily insert links to websites you’ve visited recently into files and emails — you’ll be able to choose them from a dropdown list.

What IT needs to know: With this update, admins can deploy and update add-ins for Excel, PowerPoint and Word to users or groups from the Office 365 admin center.

Get more info about Version 1704 (Build 8067.2115).

Version 1703 (Build 7967.2161)

Release date: May 9, 2017

This security update fixes assorted holes, including remote code execution vulnerabilities throughout Office, Word and Skype for Business.

What IT needs to know: Because this is a security update, it should be applied soon. Over the next few days, check for reports about problematic issues, and if all seems well, apply the update.

Get more information about Version 1703 (Build 7967.2161).

Version 1703 (Build 7967.2139)

Release date: April 21, 2017

In this feature update, PowerPoint gets a QuickStarter feature, which creates an outline of the topic of your presentation, and offers suggestions for design and talking points. You can also use new Data Visualizer templates in Visio to automatically create a Basic Flowchart or Cross-Functional Flowchart from Excel data. A new Activity button in the upper right corner of Excel, PowerPoint and Word lets you see when a file shared in OneDrive for Business or SharePoint was shared, edited, renamed or restored. Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and Word get the new Dubai font, which supports Arabic and Western European languages.

Get more information about Version 1703 (Build 7967.2139).

Version 1702 (Build 7870.2038)

Release date: April 11, 2017

This security update fixes two holes in Outlook, one of which allows an attacker to take control of a PC and install programs; view, change or delete data; or create new accounts with full user rights. It also fixes a remote code execution vulnerability in Office and WordPad that allows attackers to do the same thing.

What IT needs to know: Because this is a security update, it should be applied soon. Over the next few days, check for reports about problematic issues, and if all seems well, apply the update.

Get more information about Version 1702 (Build 7870.2038).

Version 1702 (Build 7870.2031)

Release date: March 27, 2017

This update fixes bugs in Excel and Outlook, including one in which Excel crashes when a user tries to apply cell-level permissions, and one in Outlook in which users can’t search through .PST files.

Get more information about Version 1703 (Build 7870.2031).

Version 1702 (Build 7870.2024)

Release date: March 14, 2017

This security update fixes a variety of holes in Excel, Skype for Business and Word.

What IT needs to know: Because this is a security update, it should be applied soon. Over the next few days, check for reports about problematic issues, and if all seems well, apply the update.

Get more information about Version 1703 (Build 7870.2024).

Version 1702 (Build 7870.2020)

Release date: March 9, 2017

With this feature update, PowerPoint gets a digital ruler that make it easier to draw straight lines or align a set of objects on touch screens. Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook get a new tool that lets you remove picture backgrounds to make the main image stand out more. In Word, you can use a new Side to Side command on the View tab that lets you flip through a document two pages at a time on a touch screen. Those with non-touch screens can use the horizontal scroll bar or mouse wheel to move through the pages.

Get more information about Version 1702 (Build 7870.2020).

Version 1701 (Build 7766.2060)

Release date: February 23, 2017

With this feature and bug-killing update, you can use a digital pen in Word to select and change objects. In Outlook you can collaborate in real time on attachments uploaded to OneDrive for Business. A variety of bugs have also been fixed throughout Office, including an image-cropping bug in PowerPoint that caused the cropped portion of the image to appear dark.

Get more information about Version 1701 (Build 7766.2060).

Version 1612 (Build 7668.2074)

Release date: January 31, 2017

This update fixes minor issues in OneDrive for Business and Skype for Business, including one in which Skype hangs when multiple conversation windows are open simultaneously.

Get more information about Version 1701 (Build 7668.2074).

Version 1612 (Build 7668.2066)

Release date: January 25, 2017

This feature update lets you see who has made changes to shared files in Word, PowerPoint and Excel and lets you restore earlier versions of the files. The update also lets you use a digital pen to select and change objects in Excel. In addition, there are also a variety of bug fixes, including an issue with Office’s digital ink feature that causes the ink to shift slightly when the mouse button is released.

Get more information about Version 1612 (Build 7768.2066).

Version 1611 (Build 7571.2109)

Release date: January 4, 2017

This update fixes a variety of issues, including one in which the default template doesn’t appear under File > New in PowerPoint, and another in which Excel hangs or crashes when closing.

Get more information about Version 1701 (Build 7571.2109).

Version 1609 (Build 7369.2024)

Release date: October 4, 2016

This feature update makes it easier to find and reuse content in Word and Outlook from a business’s relevant documents. (Note: This feature is available only in Office 365 Business Premium, E3 or E5.) It also lets you create a PowerPoint presentation composed of recorded slides, screen recordings and inserted videos, and share it to be viewed remotely.

Get more information about Version 1609 (Build 7369.2024).

Version 1605 (Build 6965.2053)

Release date: June 6, 2016

In this feature update, collaboration capabilities are grouped together on the Ribbon for Word and PowerPoint. In addition, in PowerPoint, multiple users can edit different elements in a SmartArt graphic simultaneously.

What IT needs to know: An AD RMS rights policy template setting will ensure that the “Grant owner (author) full control right with no expiration” setting is honored when applied to new Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents, especially if the setting is disabled. If the setting is disabled, the user will see a warning that applying the template might restrict access to the document.

Get more information about Version 1605 (Build 6965.2053).

Version 1602 (Build 6741.2017)

Release date: March 17, 2016

This feature update makes it easy to de-clutter your inbox by quickly moving an item stored in your Inbox or any other folder to an archive folder. It also introduces the Groups feature to Outlook, which lets you collaborate and communicate with others by storing all of your project or team information, such as emails, discussions and events, in one shared location.

Get more information about Version 1602 (Build 6741.2017).

Version 1601 (Build 6568.2025)

Release date: February 16, 2016

This feature update lets you use your finger or pen to write and draw, and use the tools on the new Draw tab to highlight content in Word, Excel and PowerPoint. It also adds a new black theme to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote. Funnel charts, which display values as progressively decreasing proportions, have been added to Excel. In PowerPoint, when collaborating on a presentation with others, you can see which slide they are working on.

Get more information about Version 1601 (Build 6568.2025).

Version 1509 (Build 4229.1024)

Release date: September 22, 2015

This was the Office 2016 release. Here’s a summary of what was new:

  • Office 2016 introduced a new Sharing pane that allows live collaboration with others in Word, PowerPoint and OneNote if the document is stored in OneDrive, OneDrive for Business or SharePoint Online.
  • Delve and Office 365 Planner were introduced for business versions of Office 365. Delve lets you see in-depth information about people with whom you work. Office 365 Planner makes it easier to plan and projects with others, using a central Planner Hub.
  • Outlook took on email overload with the introduction of a “Clutter” folder, where Outlook sends mail it determines to be non-essential. (It learns, over time, what is essential and what isn’t.) A Groups folder was introduced to business versions of Outlook, making it easier to track communications in the group, including conversation threads, meeting requests and videos.
  • TellMe was introduced, which makes it easier to find out how to accomplish tasks in Excel, Word and PowerPoint: Just type what you want to do in a “Tell me what you want to do” text box at the top of the screen.
  • Smart Lookup was introduced, which makes it easier to do research or fact-checking by doing a Bing search on a word or group of words. It’s available in Word, PowerPoint or Excel.
  • The Ribbon was given a solid color rather than white, with each Office application given its own identifying color.
  • Excel added six new charts, including Treemap, Sunburst, Waterfall, Histogram, Pareto and Box & Whisper.
  • Backstage (get there by clicking File on the Ribbon) shows you the email addresses of cloud-based services you’ve connected to your account, including SharePoint and OneDrive.

For a full review of Office 2016, see “Review: In Office 2016 for Windows, collaboration takes center stage.”

What IT needs to know:

  • Data loss protection (DLP) features were added to Word, PowerPoint and Excel. Previously, DLP was available only in communications-oriented tools, including Exchange, SharePoint, Outlook and OneDrive for Business.
  • System requirements for running Office 2016 were changed, including requiring 2MB of RAM.
  • Outlook received under-the-hood improvements, including some designed to improve Outlook’s stability on unreliable networks and others designed to reduce the download time of email. Outlook’s speed of search was also improved.
  • An updated MAPI-HTTP protocol that Microsoft claims is more internet-friendly was released for Outlook.
  • Users were given the ability to reduce the amount of storage space Outlook uses by choosing to keep one, three, seven, 14 or 30 days of email on their devices.
  • A new service, Background Intelligence Transfer Service (BITS), was introduced; it prevents network congestion during Office updates.
  • Office was better integrated with System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) so administrators can more efficiently distribute monthly updates as well as control the number and pace of feature updates and bug fixes.

For more information about changes to Office 2016 that affect IT, see “What’s new for admins in Office 2016.”

Get more information about Version 1509 (Build 4229.1024).

Oops! Microsoft gets 'black eye' from Teams outage

Microsoft Teams users were unable to access the collaboration app for more than two hours Monday due to an expired authentication certificate. The outage is something of an embarrassment for Microsoft which is looking to compete with popular rival Slack in the workplace collaboration market. 

According to Microsoft, Teams had more than 20 million daily active users as of November.

“This is definitely a black eye for Microsoft, especially when it has touted its reliability in the wake of some high-profile Slack outages in the last couple of years,” said Irwin Lazar, vice president and Service Director at Nemertes Research. 

“It is surprising that Microsoft didn’t renew its certificate, and it shows that as Teams rapidly grows they will have to ensure they are addressing operational issues to prevent further downtime.” 

Indeed, the prompt reaction to the outage is an indication of the growing importance of Teams as more and more office workers rely on team messaging tools.

“There is nothing like taking a service down to illustrate its popularity and importance. However, this is not a best practice we recommend,” Larry Cannell, a research director at Gartner, dryly noted.

An SSL certificate enables a secure connection between a web browser or app and a server, and is required for HTTPS-enabled sites. It helps protect users against security risks such as man-in-the-middle attacks by allowing data to be encrypted. When a certificate expires, the server can’t be identified and information cannot be sent. That was the case with Teams on Monday.

“Let’s hope that Microsoft learned their lesson from this fiasco and will put in place modifications to their processes and other types of changes to prevent it from happening again,” said Cannell.

Reports of issues began at around 8:50 a.m. ET, according to the Downdetector website. At 9:19 a.m. Microsoft tweeted out confirmation from its Microsoft 365 Status account that it was investigating the outage. By then, some users were no longer able to access the application. 

About an hour later Microsoft announced that it had identified the problem as an expired authentication certificate that had not been renewed. 

It subsequently tweeted that the fix was initiated at 11:19 a.m. and confirmed at 4 p.m. it had “successfully deployed” the solution. Most users appear were able to access Teams by midday however. 

Microsoft did not issue an apology to users from the account. 

Reacting to news that the certificate was to blame, one Twitter user, @nunu10000, delivered a snarky reponse: “Hey Cortana, set a reminder for a year from now: Renew the really important certificate.”

The outage led to other Teams users venting even more frustrations on Twitter.

As one user, @clashley1976, put it: “IT department: we’re going to migrate everyone from Skype For Business to Microsoft Teams this weekend.

“Microsoft: Cool, cool. We’re going to have a global Teams outage on Monday morning.”

Is Microsoft messing with your Win10 Search box builds?

Over the weekend, Howard Goldberg reported a startling change in his Win10 Search bar:

Running two systems side by side, both Win10 x64 1909 18363.628 (all patches, including the ones released this week). On one computer, the search bar has the text, “Type here to search,” which I believe has always been the default text in the box. On the other computer, the search bar now has the text “Start a web search”

I’ve compared the search and Cortana settings on both systems for any differences, and I can find none. The search bar is still finding my local files, etc., the behavior is the same (as far as I can tell), but the text has changed and it’s bugging me.

That sparked a discussion that culminated in a revelation that’s news to me. Apparently Microsoft updates the Search bar without asking for permission. I saw the behavior on my main machine this morning. It’s running Win10 version 1903. After rebooting, the build number for the Search box increased from 2020.02.01.6237928 to 2020.02.02.6237943 (screenshot).

search 2020.02.02.6237943Woody Leonhard/IDG

You can see the build number on your own Win10 machine by clicking once inside the Search box, then clicking the three dots in the upper right corner.

I have no idea why or how the build changed. There was no “Check for Updates,” no notification that updates had been installed, and the change doesn’t appear in any of the Update history entries (Start > Settings > Update & Security, on the right click View update history).

As you can see from the screenshot, my main machine still says “Type here to search.”

So we’re left with two unsolved mysteries. First, the Search text changes on some 1909 machines to “Start a web search” for no apparent reason. Second, the build number for the Win10 1903 and 1909 Search box changes without any interaction with the machine’s owner.

We’ve already ruled out the announced change in Office 365 ProPlus, which hijacks the Chrome browser’s search engine — none of our test machines use Office 365 ProPlus. It doesn’t look like this month’s “optional, non-security” update for Win10 version 1903 or 1909, KB 4532695, has triggered the change — Goldberg is running it, I’m not. While it’s clear that both texts appear on different machines with version 1909, we have yet to see a 1903 machine with “Start a web search.” 

Microsoft’s doing all sorts of funny things these days with Windows Search, some of it documented, some of it clearly not. The recent attempt to fix the long-standing bug in Win10 version 1909 File Explorer search, in last month’s 1909 Cumulative Update, made things marginally better — but it’s still buggy. (In spite of what you may have read, there are no Warnings Issued for Millions of Microsoft Windows 10 Users.) 

The bugs appear to stem from Microsoft’s change in File Explorer Search from a Win32 program to a WinRT/UWP program. At least, it’s part of the problem. Could a change in File Explorer Search be giving the Search box multiple personalities? Or is this just an A/B test (as BP has suggested), where Microsoft neglects to tell you if you’re an “A” or a “B”? And why would Microsoft think it’s OK to change something as fundamental as Search without telling anybody? Surely there must be some admins out there who are concerned about a shape-shifting Search box.

Operating in our usual mode of crowdsourcing documentation where Microsoft has provided none, can you help? Do you have a Win10 version 1903 machine (type winver in the Search box and press Enter) that shows “Start a web search”? What’s your Search box version number? Is it changing?

Fill us in on AskWoody.

G Suite vs. Office 365: What's the best office suite for business?

Once upon a time, Microsoft Office ruled the business world. By the late ‘90s and early 2000s, Microsoft’s office suite had brushed aside rivals such as WordPerfect Office and Lotus SmartSuite, and there was no competition on the horizon. Then in 2006 Google came along with Google Docs & Spreadsheets, a collaborative online word processing and spreadsheet duo that was combined with other business services to form the Google Apps suite, later rebranded as G Suite.

Although Google’s productivity suite didn’t immediately take the business world by storm, over time it has gained both in features and in popularity, now boasting more than 5 million paying customers. Microsoft, meanwhile, has shifted its emphasis away from its traditional licensed Office software to Office 365, a subscription-based version that’s treated more like a service, with frequent updates and new features. Office 365 is what we’ve focused on in this story.

Nowadays, choosing an office suite isn’t as simple as it once was. We’re here to help.

G Suite vs. Office 365: What’s the best productivity suite?

G Suite and Office 365 have much in common. Both are subscription-based, charging businesses per-person fees every month, in varying tiers, depending on the capabilities their customers are looking for. Although G Suite is web-based, it has the capability to work offline as well. And while Office 365 is based on installed desktop software, it also provides (less powerful) web-based versions of its applications.

Both suites work well with a range of devices. Because it’s web-based, G Suite works in most browsers on any operating system, and Google also offers apps for Android and iOS. Microsoft provides Office client apps for Windows, macOS, iOS and Android, and its web-based apps work across browsers.

The suites also offer the same basic core applications. Each has word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, email, calendar and contacts programs, along with videoconferencing, messaging and note-taking software. Each has cloud storage associated with it. But those individual applications are quite different from one suite to the other, as are the management tools for taking care of them in a business environment. And both suites offer scads of additional tools as well. So it can be exceedingly difficult to decide which suite is better for your business.

That’s where this piece comes in. We offer a detailed look at every aspect of the office suites, from an application-by-application comparison to how well each suite handles collaboration, how well their apps integrate, their pricing and support and more. Our focus here is on how the suites work for businesses, rather than individual use.  

Pricing: G Suite and Office 365 subscriptions compared

“Follow the money” is the hallowed refrain of investigators everywhere, and when you’re starting to decide which office suite is better for you, it’s a good place to start as well. Individuals can use several of the online apps from both suites — including Google Docs, Sheets and Slides as well as Microsoft Word Online, Excel Online and PowerPoint Online — for free, but businesses should look to the paid G Suite and Office 365 subscriptions for necessary security and management features. Check out the following charts, first for G Suite, and then for Office 365, to compare plans and pricing.

G Suite pricing options for business

Google Suite comes in three versions: Basic, Business and Enterprise. Basic, at $6 per user per month, comes with the full suite of applications and 30GB of storage. (Nonprofits can use G Suite Basic free of charge.) At $12 per user per month, the Business plan includes all that, plus unlimited storage and archiving, enterprise search capabilities, additional administrative tools, and a low-code application environment. And Enterprise at $25 per user per month includes all of what the Business version offers, plus even more administrative controls.

G Suite business plans

For more detailed information, check out Google’s page comparing pricing plans. And you can download an even more detailed comparison list here. Also note that some features available in higher-level G Suite plans are available for purchase as standalone services.

Microsoft Office 365 pricing options for business

Office 365 business subscriptions are more complicated and range from $5 per user per month for the most basic version, Office 365 Business Essentials, to $35 per user per month for Office 365 E5, the most feature-packed version for enterprises. The table below outlines what you get with each version. The three “Business” plans on the left are for small businesses with up to 300 employees; the four on the right are meant for larger organizations. (Scroll to see the rightmost columns.)

Office 365 business plans

Find out more about Microsoft’s small business and enterprise plans for Office 365. Microsoft also offers an array of Office 365 plans for educational, government, nonprofit and other institutions, as well as Microsoft 365 plans, which combine Office 365, Windows 10, and security management features.

In addition, many Office apps and services are available on an à la carte basis. Some companies prefer to pay for a lower-level plan and then pay for one or two of these items as add-ons rather than paying for a higher-level comprehensive plan.

G Suite vs. Office 365: App by app

Every business has different needs, and yours may place greater value on certain apps than others. For some companies, word processing and email might be the most important apps in an office suite, while others might need a powerful spreadsheet program above everything else.

To help, we’ve compared each major type of app in G Suite and Office 365 so you can zero in on the apps that are most important to your business and let their strengths and weaknesses guide your overall decision. We’ve included only the highlights below; if you want more details about each app, we’ve linked to Computerworld articles that offer in-depth comparisons.

Word processing: Google Docs vs. Microsoft Word

Deciding on whether your business would be better off with Google Docs or Microsoft Word is fairly straightforward: Which is more important to your users: easy-to-use collaboration or the greatest range of document creation and editing features? For collaboration, Google Docs is better. For as fully featured a word processor as you’ll find anywhere, you’ll want Word.

By saying Word has superior features, I don’t mean a bunch of tools that your business may never use. I mean great capabilities that make your workflow easier and more productive. If you’re creating a report, brochure, resume, or almost any other kind of document, Word offers an excellent set of pre-built templates so you can get writing fast, knowing that your document will have a solid, useful design. For example, Word has nearly 50 different report templates, while Google Docs only has five. Word also offers more chart types and styles for embedding into documents.

gsuite vs o365 01 microsoft word IDG

Microsoft Word has far more powerful features than Google Docs, including many pre-built templates from which to choose when creating a new document. (Click image to enlarge it.)

But Google Docs outshines Word when it comes to live collaboration. Collaborating is seamless and has been built into it from the ground up, while in Word it’s more difficult to use, not as comprehensive and feels tacked-on rather than an integral part of the program.

gsuite vs o365 02 google docs IDG

When it comes to live collaboration, Google Docs outshines Microsoft Word by a wide margin. (Click image to enlarge it.)

For non-live collaboration — editing and marking up documents for review by others — Word has always been the gold standard, but Google Docs has come a long way and now is nearly as good as Word. Word’s editing tools have slightly finer-grained controls, but apart from that, they’re about even.

For a more in-depth comparison, head to “Microsoft Word vs. Google Docs: Which works better for business?

Spreadsheets: Google Sheets vs. Microsoft Excel

Do users in your company mostly work alone on spreadsheets, or do they frequently collaborate with others? The answer to that will determine whether Excel or Google Sheets is better for your business.

For those who primarily work by themselves, Excel is the clear winner. As with Word, its wide selection of templates offers an embarrassment of riches. For example, there are more than 60 templates just for different types of budgets. Whether it’s a business budget or a special-purpose budget, such as for a marketing event, you’ll likely find one that fits your needs and that can be easily edited. By contrast, Google Sheets has only three different budget templates.

Excel also offers far more chart types than Google Sheets — 17 in all — including popular ones such as column, line, pie, bar and area; more complex ones such as radar, surface and histogram; and some that are known mainly to data professionals, like box & whisker. And many chart types have multiple subtypes — for example, among the bar charts you’ll find clustered bar, stacked bar, and son on, and each of those has two variations. Google Sheets has only seven main types of charts. It’s also simpler to create charts with Excel than it is in Google Sheets.

gsuite vs o365 03 microsoft excel IDG

Excel has far more sophisticated features than Google Sheets, including many more chart types. (Click image to enlarge it.)

Google Sheets far outpaces Excel in real-time collaboration, though. As with Docs, collaboration is baked directly into Sheets. Not only does it have more powerful tools, but they’re naturally integrated and easy to access. The same holds true for editing and commenting on spreadsheets.

gsuite vs o365 04 google sheets IDG

Google Sheets’ collaboration tools are powerful and easy to use. (Click image to enlarge it.)

For a more in-depth comparison, see “Microsoft Excel vs. Google Sheets: Which works better for business?

Presentations: Google Slides vs. Microsoft PowerPoint

As with word processing and spreadsheet apps, whether Google Slides or PowerPoint is best for your business comes down to a single point: Do you prize collaboration or powerful features in a presentation program? If collaboration is king in your company, Google Slides is better. For every other reason, PowerPoint is.

For example, PowerPoint’s QuickStarter feature makes quick work of starting a presentation.  Choose the topic of your presentation, and QuickStarter walks you through creating an outline, starter slides, templates and themes. Google Slides has no equivalent.

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PowerPoint has numerous features Google Slides can’t match, including QuickStarter, which walks you through creating an outline, starter slides, templates and themes. (Click image to enlarge it.)

Similarly, with PowerPoint, it’s easier to add graphics, transitions, animations and multimedia. It has more chart and table types as well. And it has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to giving the presentation itself, with innovative capabilities such as Rehearse Timings, which times how long you take on each individual slide as you rehearse a presentation. That way, you won’t get bogged down on any individual slide, and you can practice giving each slide its just due. Google Slides has nothing like it.

However, Google Slides rules when it comes to collaboration, with far outstrips the kludgy and awkward capabilities built into PowerPoint. And because Slides offers fewer capabilities than Excel, it’s slightly easier to create slides in it, because it doesn’t pack as many features into the interface.

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Slides isn’t as powerful as Excel, but its interface is less cluttered and confusing. (Click image to enlarge it.)

For a more in-depth comparison, see “PowerPoint vs. Google Slides: Which works better for business?

Email: Gmail vs. Microsoft Outlook

If you prize simplicity, you’ll favor Gmail over Outlook. Gmail has a much cleaner and less cluttered interface than Outlook’s default one, offering the best balance between ease of use and powerful features. However, Outlook has made some headway towards being more straightforward to use with a new simplified Ribbon you can turn on.

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Gmail offers a streamlined interface and intuitive ways to accomplish your most important email tasks. (Click image to enlarge it.)

Whether it’s creating, responding to or managing email, Gmail offers an intuitive interface with easy-to-use tools for getting your work done fast. Our favorites include an AI-driven option that suggests words and phrases as you type, a “nudge” feature for surfacing forgotten messages, and a handy snooze button for delaying incoming messages.

When it comes to power features, however, Outlook rules. For example, Outlook’s Focused Inbox lets you see and respond to the most important emails first, and its Clean Up feature does a great job of simplifying long email threads so they’re easier to follow. And because the contacts and calendar functions are part of Outlook itself, they’re well integrated with email. Gmail relies on the separate Google Contacts and Calendar apps, which can be a bit more cumbersome to navigate.

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Even with a new, simplified Ribbon, Outlook’s interface can be quite confusing to use. (Click image to enlarge it.)

If your users want every bell and whistle possible, Outlook provides them all. For getting things done quickly, Gmail is a better choice.

For a more in-depth comparison, see “Outlook vs. Gmail: Which works better for business?

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Collaboration: Google Hangouts Chat and Meet vs. Microsoft Teams

As I’ve noted multiple times in this article, when it comes to collaborating on documents, Gmail is far superior to Office 365 — it’s baked right into the interface, rather than feeling like an afterthought as it does in Office 365. Everything is in front of you to invite people to collaborate, set their collaboration rights, and chat with them while you do the work together. There’s a deeper learning curve for using collaboration in Office 365, and even when you learn how to do it, it’s not nearly as seamless as G Suite.

Working together on individual documents is only one part of the equation, though. When it comes to more complex, enterprise-wide collaboration features, Office 365 includes tools that beat anything G Suite offers. Microsoft Teams, for example, combines group chat, online meetings, web- and videoconferencing, customized workspaces, shared team file repositories and more in a way that’s more sophisticated and useful than anything Google has. And Teams has deep ties to the rest of the Office platform, offering effortless integration with Outlook, SharePoint, OneDrive for Business and more.

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Microsoft Teams is a group-chat platform that integrates closely with the rest of Office 365. (Click image to enlarge it.)

Microsoft’s Skype for Business videoconferencing platform also integrates with Office 365, but it’s being phased out in favor of Teams.

For its part, G Suite offers Hangouts Meet for videoconferencing and Hangouts Chat, a messaging and workflow integration platform that’s tied tightly to the rest of G Suite. They’re useful and straightforward tools, although not quite as powerful as Office 365’s offerings.

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Starting a Google Hangouts Meet meeting. (Click image to enlarge it.)

Office 365 and G Suite each offer their own social-network-like place to interact with one another, Yammer in the case of Office 365 and Currents for G Suite. Neither of them is directly integrated with its respective office suite, though.

Storage and file sharing: Google Drive vs. Microsoft OneDrive for Business and SharePoint

Both suites come with substantial amounts of storage, aside from the cheapest G Suite version, Basic, which offers only 30GB per person. The two more expensive G Suite options include unlimited storage. Office 365’s small business and lower-tier enterprise plans include 1TB of storage per user, while its E3 and E5 plans include unlimited storage.

There’s little to differentiate G Suite’s and Office 365’s storage-and-shared-documents features from one another. Both Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive for Business integrate directly with their own office suites, and both allow you to access the files on any device. In G Suite, the files live in the cloud by default rather than on the devices themselves, although you can also store them locally. In Office 365 they live on each device and also in the cloud, and it all syncs together.

If you’re worried about offline access for the cloud-first G Suite, it offers management tools that allow administrators to set whether users can access their documents and use Docs, Sheets and Slides when their computers aren’t connected to the internet. The tools allow admins to install a policy on each computer allowing that access, or else let each user decide whether to allow offline access.

OneDrive has a nice feature called OneDrive Files on Demand that lets users decide, on a file-by-file and folder-by-folder basis, which files to store on individual devices and which to leave in the cloud, although the files and folders in the cloud are still available for download when you want them on a device.

Almost all Office 365 business and enterprise plans also include a free version of Microsoft’s SharePoint service, called SharePoint Online. SharePoint Online adds substantial features to storage and sharing. It manages and organizes documents, workflows, and other shared information, typically via a series of mini-sites.

SharePoint Online is delivered as a service and is hosted by Microsoft, so businesses do not need to purchase and manage their own servers and infrastructure for it. However, they may need admins to handle a number of SharePoint Online tasks, such as content management and portal design.

There’s also a for-pay version of SharePoint, called SharePoint Server, that is available under a separate license and isn’t included as part of Office 365. With SharePoint Server, your business hosts and manages the physical and software infrastructure required for SharePoint. That means performing tasks such as racking servers; applying security patches and feature updates; and monitoring uptime, reliability and security. With SharePoint Online, those tasks are handled by Microsoft.

Google doesn’t offer a true equivalent to SharePoint Online in G Suite. Subscribers to the Business and Enterprise plans can use a feature called Team Drives, which are Google Drive folders that can be accessed and managed by more than one person. They can be used as handy repositories for members of a team to store and share documents, images, and other files, but Team Drives are not integrated intranet sites like those offered by SharePoint.

One final note: Google’s search tools for finding documents in Google Drive are far better than Microsoft’s search tools in OneDrive, and its Cloud Search function extends that Google’s search power across all of a company’s content. That being said, it’s generally easier to browse OneDrive using File Explorer than it is to browse Google Drive on the web.

Other tools and extras with G Suite vs. Office 365

The two office suites offer more than the standard word processing, spreadsheet, presentation and email/calendaring applications — each has extras as well. Knowing these extras can help you decide which suite is best suited for your business.

Office 365 goes well beyond suite basics, with plenty of extra applications and smaller apps. Foremost among them is Access, which can be used to build business applications, either based on templates or completely from scratch. It’s designed for non-developers, although it does require some coding smarts. Access is available for Windows only, and subscribers to Office 365 E1 and Business Essentials don’t get it. Another PC-only program included with business plans (except E1 and Business Essentials) is the desktop publishing software Publisher.

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Access is among the tools included with most business and enterprise Office 365 plans. (Click image to enlarge it.)

The OneNote note-taking app is a very useful yet underutilized part of the Office suite. Last year, Microsoft stopped installing the OneNote desktop client as part of a standard Office installation, although it can still be downloaded separately. As of March 2020, however, the desktop app will be included in Office 365 again — and that’s a good thing, because it offers much more powerful features than the web or Universal Windows Platform versions of the app.

Office 365 also comes with Microsoft Forms, an app that lets you create surveys, quizzes and polls, and Microsoft Planner, which, as its name implies, helps teams create plans, and assign tasks, share files, chat about what you’re working on, and keep track of updates. It can work by itself or integrate with Microsoft Teams. Another application included with enterprise Office 365 plans is Power Automate (previously called Microsoft Flow), which allows businesses to automate repetitive tasks and integrate them into workflows — for example, automatically sending an alert when a new item is added to SharePoint.

Other apps and services included with some Office 365 business and enterprise plans include PowerApps, a low-code app development tool; MyAnalytics, a productivity analysis tool; Delve, a tool that lets users find and organize content in Office 365; Stream, an enterprise video service; Sway, a tool for creating web-based presentations; and Kaizala, a mobile work management app aimed at frontline workers.

Finally, Microsoft offers additional tools that aren’t formally part of Office 365 but integrate with it, such as To Do, a to-do list app that works with Outlook and Microsoft Planner.

That’s a lot of extras, which is both good and bad. The good is obvious — there are plenty of tools available for you. The bad may be less obvious — getting a handle on how they all work (or don’t work) together can be very confusing.

G Suite has fewer of these extras, and most are less powerful than Office 365’s additional tools. Google Forms, which works hand-in-hand with Sheets, is probably the most powerful and useful of the extras. As the name implies, it lets you create forms for a wide variety of purposes, such as an order form, a work request, time-off request, getting feedback about an event.

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Google Forms lets you quickly and easily create customized forms in order to get feedback. (Click image to enlarge it.)

Google Sites is another useful one. It lets you create team and company websites for individual projects, events, and other similar purposes. There’s also the Google Keep note-taking app, which is straightforward, bare-bones, and not nearly as sophisticated as Microsoft’s OneNote. AppMaker (available with the G Suite Business and Enterprise plans) provides a low-code app development environment.

And if you want to create drawings, particularly diagrams, you’ll appreciate Google Drawings, which is not included with G Suite but works in concert with it (and is free). If you create a drawing with Drawings and embed it into a Google Doc, and then make a change in the drawing file itself, the drawing in Google Docs gets updated as well.

None of these extras offers knock-your-socks-off capabilities, aside from Microsoft’s Access and PowerApps and Google’s AppMaker, which can allow those with limited programming experience to create truly useful applications. So they may not affect which suite is best for your business. For many companies, they’re nice-to-have tools, not must-have ones.

G Suite vs. Office 365: Security and management tools

Choosing the productivity suite with the best features for your business is one thing, but often overlooked is how easy or difficult it is to manage the suite and protect your data. Even the best user-facing features can’t make up for poor or insufficient security and management tools. So you’ll want to compare G Suite’s to Office 365’s.

Both suites are managed from a web interface, and in both instances, the interface leaves something to be desired, with somewhat confusing options and layouts. However, the “Essentials” view in the Microsoft 365 admin center beats anything in G Suite because of how easily it lets you accomplish the most common tasks, including and editing new and existing users, changing licenses, paying bills, and installing Office on devices. And it has an Add User wizard that helps you set up email, licensing, roles, contact information, and so on from in one spot.

Interfaces aside, Office 365 offers better admin account security, superior mobile administration, and more management controls. But G Suite supports the key management features for organizations with no heavy compliance requirements. And both suites protect your data with enterprise-grade security and offer a central security center for managing user permissions and protections.

For an in-depth comparison, check out “Office 365 vs. G Suite: Which has better management tools?

G Suite vs. Office 365: Service and support

In an ideal world, nothing goes wrong with an office suite, and no one ever needs technical support. But we don’t live in that ideal world. So you’ll want to know the kind of support and updates G Suite and Office 365 offers.

G Suite offers 24/7 tech support via phone, email and chat, but for G Suite administrators only. There’s also a searchable help center for administrators and a blog covering release information for G Suite updates. Also useful is the G Suite Administrator Help Community, which includes forums as well as YouTube videos to help administrators accomplish common tasks. Non-administrators will have to visit Google’s general help area, which covers many Google products such as YouTube, Google Maps and Google Photos in addition to the individual components of G Suite. There’s also a G Suite Learning Center for user training.

Microsoft also has 24/7 tech support via phone, email and chat for Office 365 administrators. The Office 365 Admin help center includes help targeted at small businesses as well as enterprises, and the Office 365 Training Center offers comprehensive video training for admins, IT pros and Office 365 users. There’s a sizable number of forums devoted to Office 365. And the Office Help & Training area has a wide variety of help, down to the application level and including troubleshooting for both consumers and admins. As for updates, Microsoft generally releases Office 365 updates one or more times a month and publishes information online about every update.

Can Office 365 and G Suite work together and with other enterprise software?

As you’ve seen throughout this piece, Office 365 and G Suite have their own strengths and weaknesses, so you might be tempted to use both of them — for example, Office 365 for document creation and G Suite for collaboration.

Theoretically, it’s possible. In practice, it’s a bad idea. In part that’s because G Suite’s documents aren’t saved as local documents with their own file formats. Instead, they live on Google’s servers. You can save them in various file formats, including Office 365’s .docx, .xlsx and .pptx, among others, and you can import files from those and other formats as well. There’s now even a way to natively edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint files in their original formats on Google’s servers. But I’ve found that formatting and layouts are often lost in translation between Office 365 and G Suite, embedded videos don’t work, not all comments are shown, resolved comments don’t appear, comments you make in Google aren’t brought back into Office, and so on.

In addition, the workflow is a nightmare if you’re transferring files back and forth between the two suites. The idea behind editing online is to have a single location where everyone can collaborate on the latest version of each file, but if you use both G Suite and Office 365, various versions of the file may be stored in Google Drive, OneDrive for Business, or both.

But what about using one suite for content creation, collaboration and storage and the other for communications like email, shared calendars, group chat, and videoconferencing? Again, it’s theoretically possible, but I don’t see the point. It makes everything much more difficult because of convoluted workflows, and you’d lose the integrations built into each suite. And there’s also the issue of businesses having to pay for, manage, and maintain two office suites, not one, when there are no obvious benefits to be gained by it.

As for integrating with other enterprise software such as Salesforce, Shopify, HubSpot and others, there are plenty of tools for doing that with both suites. If any particular piece of enterprise software is particularly important to your business, you’d do well to test out the integrations with both G Suite and Office 365 before deciding on a suite.

Who should use G Suite

Based on all this, what kind of company should use G Suite? It’s pretty straightforward: If collaborating on documents is baked into your company’s DNA — or you want to bake it in — G Suite is for you. Its live collaboration features far outstrip anything Office 365 has to offer. They’re such an integral part of the suite’s design and so simple to use, it requires practically no time at all to get up and running with them.

G Suite is also a good bet if your company doesn’t need all the sophisticated features of Office 365’s individual apps. Each individual application in G Suite is simpler to use than Office 365’s, with Gmail in particular more straightforward than Outlook. And if your users do a lot of searching for documents, Google’s search for Google Drive outstrips what Office 365 has to offer.

Who should use Office 365

If powerful and sophisticated features are more important to you than the best in collaboration, then Office 365 is for you. Every one of its applications beats out its G Suite equivalent. And it’s not as if you can’t do live collaboration in Office 365. It’s just a bit more of a chore and not as straightforward as in G Suite. And Office 365’s markup features are exemplary, so it’s a good bet when people need to review each other’s work.

There are other reasons for a business to use Office 365 as well. Although G Suite’s Team Drives are useful for sharing documents and materials, they are no match for the fully collaborative environments that SharePoint offers. If you want to manage your mail server, rather than use hosted email, you’ll also want Office 365. And Microsoft Teams provides a great way for teams to share work with one another.