“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
That’s a colloquial way of saying that if something is working adequately you should just leave it alone. It’s a philosophy that many organizations embrace when it comes to aging software — but that is almost never a good idea.
With Microsoft ending support for Office 2010 on Oct. 13, the company is urging its customers to upgrade to either a Microsoft 365 subscription or purchase a license for the standalone Office 2019 product. However, companies around the world are putting off upgrades in order to squeeze the last bit of functionality out of the 10-year-old productivity suite.
It’s a pattern that has been repeated with every Office upgrade cycle going back to the release of Office 1.5 in 1991 — people are reluctant to switch from something that is familiar and seems to be working fine. They often assume that end-of-support just means they won’t be able to call Microsoft for support, which they never need to do anyway.
However, the truth is that running unsupported software can place your organization at great risk. When security weaknesses and technical flaws are no longer patched or fixed, older software can be exploited by cybercriminals in many different ways. For proof, look no further than the global WannaCry ransomware attack in 2017 which almost exclusively affected computers that were still running Windows 7.
Office 2010 Likely to be Targeted
Some sort of widespread exploit could be possible once Microsoft stops issuing security updates and patches for Office 2010. It was still being used by 83 percent of companies as recently as 2017 — three years after Microsoft ended mainstream support and announced this year’s end-of-life date.
There’s no doubt that vulnerabilities exist in O2010. Some of the last updates were designed to address a variety of remote code execution vulnerabilities that could allow an attacker to take full control of a compromised computer with the ability to view, change or delete data, install programs, or create new accounts with full user rights.
Even if security weren’t an issue, performance will be. Apps built in 2010 simply weren’t designed for a world of smartphones, cloud services, artificial intelligence and 5G wireless networks, and running older apps can put you at a competitive disadvantage. With built-in intelligence and the ability to link with cloud services via application programming interfaces, the latest versions of Office apps such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint are smarter and more powerful than ever.
Although Microsoft has enabled a couple of upgrade paths, the company clearly would prefer customers choose a subscription. In fact, the company only decided to offer the standalone O2019 on-premises version in response to customer feedback. However, Microsoft will not provide ongoing feature updates to O2019, although there will be occasional updates and patches.
Benefits of the Subscription Model
A Microsoft 365 subscription will provide a range of valuable features. Most important, the subscription model ensures you’re always running the most updated version, and the newest security features are automatically updated as soon as they’re rolled out. In addition to the essential productivity apps, all of the business versions of Microsoft 365 also include integrated cloud storage and more than 1,000 security and privacy controls.
For all of the subscription model’s benefits, migration will be an adjustment for organizations accustomed to Microsoft’s traditional volume licensing arrangements. The platform has so many features that it can be difficult to find, access and activate everything. Licensing is notoriously confusing with hundreds of different options. In some cases, organizations may need to assign different licenses to different personnel, depending on their job requirements and the features they need.
Although an upgrade will be challenging, it should be considered a business requirement. The security and productivity risks of unsupported software are too great. If you don’t have the time, expertise or manpower for such a project, give RMM Solutions a call. Our team of Microsoft-certified professionals can simplify the process and help speed your transition to the applications you need for long-term stability.