Deployment Options for Office 2016

The latest in the productive suite from Microsoft is Office 2016 – with touch support and a hoard of features in each desktop application and web apps. Check out the list of new features in Office 2016 if you haven’t already.

Since Office 365 user accounts belonging to individuals and small businesses have automatically been upgraded to Office 2016, they don’t have much to do. They may omit deployment of Office 2016 as standalone applications on their computers. The web apps are compatible with Office 2013 and Office 2010 so there is no hurry except if you want to get the full experience and features of Office productivity suite all the time – online or offline. The article is more oriented towards enterprise versions of Office 2016 and is aimed at IT admins. Check out the deployment options for Office 2016.

 Office 2016 Deployment Options

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Current Branch & Current Branch for Business Office 2016 Updates

Like Windows 10, Microsoft has decided to break updates for Office 2016 too into two categories. One is Current Branch and the other is Current Branch for Business. The former gets security and feature updates as and when they are released (after being checked by Office Insiders). The Current Branch for Business allows you some time to test the compatibility of updates before you choose to implement or discard them. To make the process easier, Current Branch for Business users get only three feature updates per year and a monthly security update. They get some time to evaluate these updates.

The type of consumer you are, is determined by the Office 365 plans you have bought. For individual and student Office 365 plans, you will be considered Current Branch and will receive all types of updates as soon as they are available. If you have the Office Pro Plus plan, for example, you will be treated as Current Branch for Business user and will get one security update per month and three feature updates per year.

Besides the security and feature updates, there could be zero day updates that may arise in future that will be made available to both branches alike.

Office 2016 in Office 365 basic plans deployment

The student plan and the small business plan all fall into the basic plans of Office 365. In this case, you need not worry about deployment of Office 2016. For what you were already paying to Office 365, you will be auto upgraded to Office 2016 on the web apps. That means you are using the latest suite already without having to worry about local deployment. The web apps are compatible with local installations of Office 2013 and Office 2010 so there is no need to hurry and install Office 2016

NOTE: If you do install Office 2016 locally for use with Office 365, it becomes better as there won’t be formatting issues. Though compatible with older versions of Office, Office 365 web apps do not provide all the features available in the standalone app. It may sometimes create issues with formatting etc.

If you are working on a project with collaborators, you would want real time collaboration – which is not present in the previous versions of Word and Excel. With a local Office 2016 installation, you get to use all the features and collaborate with other colleagues in real time. That is, you need not stick to just the web versions. Even the local Office 2016 installations will update to cloud based document or spread sheet in real time as and when you save and then will incorporate what others have been doing on the file (document or spreadsheets) when they save the file on their side.

Enterprise Plans for Office 2016 in Office 365

If you are mid-sized to large business IT admin, you might be confused as whether or not to deploy Office 2016 at this time. Of course you have to check the compatibility of Office 2016 with other apps on your network and then decide. It is up to you to decide whether to deploy Office 2016 right away or wait until Feb 2016 when the Office 2016 for Current Branch for Business will be finalized and released. You can implement Office 2016 and then move to Current Branch for Business in Feb 2016. In my personal opinion, it would be a bit cumbersome as the Current Branch available now will try to push updates without giving you time to evaluate the updates.

I would recommend waiting until the Current Branch for Business is implemented. You can then buy Office 2016 through volume licensing center for your business. You can, meanwhile, make sure that the installing 2016 in Feb would not in any way create problems in the regular functioning of the apps on your network.

But when the CBB is available in Feb, it would be a waste of resources to wait more. This is because your Office 365 is already running 2016. If you choose to delay local deployment of Office 2016 on your network, you will be depriving your employees of the full functionality of the multi-featured Office apps. Though you can wait for another year, it doesn’t make much sense because you are already paying for Office 365 Pro (for example). So why use only a part of features that the suite is providing? Having deployment of Office 2016 on local machines will enhance the productivity of your business with its plenty of features.

For example, you won’t have to waste your time browsing for the attachments in Outlook. In Outlook, the last files you worked are displayed in the attachment drop down list. All you need is to select the file from the list. You cannot afford to miss on such time saving features. And most employees would prefer having full functionality – i.e. lay their hands on all the features of the latest productive suite instead of dealing with web apps only.

Deployment Tool for Office 2016

The Office 2016 Deployment Tool helps you in deployment of the latest suite without any problems. It can be used to configure and customize the installations as per your needs. Learn about the Microsoft Office 2016 Deployment Tool here.

Deployment Scripts for Office 2016

Microsoft Office Blog is offering some script templates that you may customize or use directly for deployment of 2016. Here is the link to Office 2016 deployment scripts.

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Arun Kumar is a Microsoft MVP alumnus, obsessed with technology, especially the Internet. He deals with the multimedia content needs of training and corporate houses. Follow him on Twitter @PowercutIN