When you manage IT for a large organization, control is everything. Whether it’s control of data access, device privilege, or the applications running, control isn’t something quickly divested, at least not easily. Volume Licensing has been the preferred deployment and procurement method by so many enterprises due to the control it offers to those who manage these enterprises. Enter the new kid on the block: Click to Run.
With the release of Office 365, Microsoft released the new deployment method that it would begin to transition all software to: Click to Run (C2R). The beauty of C2R is that deployments could simply be run by enabling an end user to install the software package directly from the Office 365 portal. For mobile users who never really stepped foot onto campus or connected to the network through VPN this was an overt blessing.
For other cases, the control you wanted was retained through use of the Office 365 Deployment tool. Here the ability to customize a deployment package with the applications, settings, and privileges you desired remained. Different sales segments with different installed apps all seemed very, what’s the word, Volume Licensing.
The most important thing to note however, is that C2R Office isn’t just a new way of installing or managing Office 365. It’s Microsoft’s manner of ensuring clients are using the most up to date software available. Put yourself in Microsoft’s shoes, and try to understand the disdain of seeing scores of organizations maintain use of antiquated applications even after the millions of dollars dumped into R/D programs. C2R is their way of preventing this. There are two ways to view that idea: excitement or lament.
Regardless of the mindset you are in while reading this, the important thing is to understand what this means for your business. Office 365 currently allows you to run one of two office versions, Office 365 2013 (wave 15) or Office 365 2016 (wave 16). This is all going to change in February of 2017. Come February, Microsoft will be announcing the End of Life of Wave 15. Thankfully the software build will remain functional to all users. However, any and all security and service patches/builds will no longer be available. It will be important to note that you will need to ensure all user builds are making use of the Office 365 Deployment tool if you plan to continue running Wave 15 in any capacity.
Which build you move forward with is up to you, that control has not been taken away (even with C2R media). It’s important to keep in mind that Microsoft is starting to adopt this method of upgrades across their product lines. Whether with the new anniversary Current Branch updates with Windows 10 or the Nano Server feature of Windows Server 2016. Subscription or not, Microsoft is looking for its clients to stay current on licensing. Otherwise, continue to use volume licensing downgrade rights. Thankfully those aren’t going anywhere.