Office 2016 Installation Routine Deleting Older Stand-alone Apps

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2016-02-16 Print this article Print
Office App Delections

After the usual scripted tech support conversation, the support representative said that he'd send me a link to download Visio 2016, which he did. I successfully downloaded the software and ran the installation routine. I had access to Visio again.

It turns out that for the first few months that this was happening, Microsoft support reps had been quietly contacting people with this problem who had complained in the community forum and offering the same upgrade deal.

Then, finally, Microsoft announced its new upgrade policy. The new "Special offer," now stated in writing, is what support representatives had been doing quietly all along, providing a means to upgrade those bought and paid for stand-alone applications that irretrievably disappeared.

The obvious question then becomes, why did Microsoft do this? It would seem to be an unlikely choice that involved alienating thousands, perhaps millions, of users who had been loyal users of Microsoft's applications. The answer is that Office 2016 uses Microsoft's Click-to-Run installation. But it's more complicated than that.

The Click-to-Run deployment option has been around for a while, and earlier versions of Office, including 2010 and 2013, are capable of using Click-to-Run. But for whatever reason, even though Click-to-Run works with those earlier versions of Office, the versions aren't compatible. Why this should require elimination of earlier versions of Office applications remains a mystery, which so far Microsoft hasn't cleared up.

What Microsoft has shared is a statement from a spokesperson telling us what we already knew. "Because Office 2016 and Office 2013 standalone applications cannot be installed on the same device, Microsoft has created an offer allowing consumers to upgrade standalone apps to their Office 2016 version. The offer gives users the ability to take full advantage of updates, and is valid through June 30, 2016."

I'm was seeking an answer from Microsoft about how this was allowed to happen in the first place. I've been in contact with Microsoft's spokesperson, and perhaps I'll get an answer.

On Feb. 17 a Microsoft spokesperson provided a follow up statement confirming that "2013 and 2016 click-to-run installs of Office cannot run side-by-side. The offer was meant to help existing Office 365 plan users who may have purchased stand-alone products such as Project 2013, Access 2013, etc. since once a user updated Office to the 2016 version, their 2013 stand-alone product is deleted."

If I had to guess, I suspect that what actually happened is that somebody on the software engineering team didn't think through or test the potential consequences of using an updated Click-to-Run routine to install Office 2016 without also upgrading the stand-alone applications at the same time. But since nobody has told Microsoft's customers in advance that this would happen, the outcome isn't surprising.

What needs to be done now is for customers to defer any upgrade to Office 2016 for the time being until Microsoft permanently fixes the installation routine to prevent the automatic deletion of stand-alone office apps that is leaving paying customers stamping their feet in rage.

Office 2013 works just fine, and to my eyes the new version doesn't seem to offer a compelling set of new features. For now, when you get that reminder that your version of Office isn't up to date, just say no.

Editor's Note: This story was updated with additional comment from a Microsoft spokesperson about how the standalone application deletions occurred.


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