Office 2016 Installation Routine Deleting Older Stand-alone Apps

NEWS ANALYSIS: If your company depends on Microsoft Office applications that are installed separately from the ubiquitous productivity suite, installing Office 2016 will remove them.

Office App Deletions 2

I can't say I wasn't warned. I was part way through installing Microsoft Office 2016 on my primary workstation when I got a message that said, "Stop, you should wait to install Office 2016."

The error message went on to say that if I decided to continue anyway, my copy of Microsoft Visio Standard 2013 would be removed. Since I had the original disk from when I purchased the software, I went ahead.

Bad move. It turns out that when Microsoft says that Visio 2013 won't work with Office 2016, it means it won't even have the chance to work. Any attempt to reinstall the software will be thwarted. The fact that you paid for the software is beside the point. You're basically out of luck.

When I went to the Microsoft community forums, which is where Microsoft handles much of its tech support, I discovered that I wasn't alone. Apparently hundreds of people who'd purchased stand-alone Microsoft Office products were affected, and they weren't happy about it.

Furthermore, the problem extended far beyond Visio. Users with Microsoft Project, Publisher, Access, InfoPath and SharePoint Designer were also affected. Likewise, Microsoft customers who purchased Office Apps that are normally part of Office suites but may have been purchased separately, such as Outlook 2013, were also affected.

This problem exists for all upgrades to Office 2016, except for those with Office 365, but only if users wait until prompted to do the upgrade. If you upgrade manually, you're not protected.

In its warning, the Office 2016 install error message states that Microsoft is working on a solution. However, even though Office 2016 has been out for some months, it appears that a solution still eludes the company.

As a result customers have peppered Microsoft support forums with bitter invective. "This is the DUMBEST, STUPIDEST move to make," wrote one user, suggesting that Office 2016 product managers should be sacked. As a result, Microsoft has relented—sort of.

Fortunately, there is salvation, but the road to a fix isn't obvious. Apparently tired of hundreds of messages accusing the Microsoft Office team of everything from illegal acts to larceny, Microsoft responded with a solution.

But I only discovered this after spending some fruitless hours on the relevant forum in the Microsoft community. It finally occurred to me that I have a Microsoft support account that I pay for every year and if there was ever a time that I needed to use it, this was the time.

So I called Microsoft's support folks, referred to my support account, and asked them to help me solve the problem. I ran into a wall. The support representative had no idea what I was talking about.

Next I escalated to the next support level, and then, finally, got in touch with someone on the Office support team who was familiar with the problem.

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash is a freelance writer and editor with a 35 year history covering technology. He’s a frequent speaker on business, technology issues and enterprise computing. He covers Washington and...