expiration date
Microsoft sent Office perpetual license holders a not so delicate hint this week: get moving to the cloud PHOTO: David Goehring

Wehn Satya Nadella stepped in as CEO of Microsoft, the Redmond, Wash.-based company set a clear vision for its future — a future in the cloud and in services.

What was never made clear was where this left users of its standalone Office software. 

Microsoft started clarifying its position on these products this week with the announcement that as of 2020, anyone looking to connect their Office standalone versions with Microsoft cloud services, such as OneDrive, will no longer be able to do so without mainstream support. 

What exactly does this mean? 

No More 'Perpetual' Office?

Microsoft currently offers two ways to access Office. There's the Office 365 version, which allows subscribers to install a version of the Office apps on a local machine. You pay a monthly fee and receive updates as they are released.

The other is what Microsoft describes as “Office perpetual.” In this case, you buy the suite, install it and never pay again. As with its other products, Microsoft offers five years’ mainstream support, then five years extended support for these products. During the first five years, Microsoft fixes everything, during the last five, it only fixes bugs.

All this will change in 2020. Microsoft isn't exactly going to suppress perpetual Office offerings, however it is building in an expiration date for many users.

When 2020 rolls around, anyone using a perpetual version of Office that connects with Office 365 services can only do so with mainstream support — not extended.

This means that to continue using Office as a standalone, you'll have to buy a newer version of Office every five years for the mainstream support.

The days of buying Office once and using it forever will be for all intents and purposes over. Unless, of course, you don’t use any Microsoft cloud services — and that’s becoming increasingly difficult.

A Gentle Push Towards Office 365

Consider it a gentle nudge from Microsoft, to get users off of perpetual licenses and closer to Office 365.

The move may make sense, even for home users. The home kit allows subscribers to install Office 365 on up to five machines and it also provides the benefit of all of the security and functional updates that come with the cloud deployment.

Ron Markezich, corporate vice president for the Office commercial marketing team had this to say about the move:

“We’re providing more than three years’ notice to give IT time to plan and budget for this change. Until this new requirement goes into effect in 2020, Office 2010, Office 2013 and Office 2016 perpetual clients will still be able to connect to Office 365 services.”

In other words, you've got three years to get with the cloud program, or else. Consider yourself warned!

Free Apple Productivity App

Office isn't the only productivity game in town. A new set of productivity tools recently joined the "free" offerings list from a company whose workplace apps often go forgotten: Apple. 

iWorks is Cupertino, Cal.-based Apple's suite of Office apps. Until recently, iWorks, which works on Apple hardware including iPhones, iPads and Macs, cost $9.99 per app. Even if you bought all of the apps, the price would pale in comparison with equivalent solutions, but any savings is always welcome. 

That’s all about to change. With the newest versions of iPads and Macs, users can download Pages, Numbers and Keynote for free, as well as iMovie and GarageBand.

New Mac and iOS device owners have had these apps for free since 2013, but now users don’t have to buy a new piece of hardware to download them.

They're no match for any of the Google or Microsoft productivity apps, but if you’re traveling and need to do some work, they get the job done.

Foxit Integrates With OpenText

Also in the document world, Fremont, Calif.-based PDF specialist Foxit recently announced an integration between its PhantomPDF 8.3 and OpenText eDOCS Content Management System.

According to a statement from Foxit, the new version of PhantomPDF includes:

  • Integration with OpenText eDOCS Content Management System
  • Enhanced comment management in Shared Review
  • Simplified workflow for iManage integration

The company also claims it offers a better review user experience, enhanced permission control and an improved file protection workflow for better permission control.

As a result, users will now be able to open, review and save PDF files into OpenText's eDOCS Enterprise Content Management system directly from PhantomPDF.

This is just the latest move by Foxit, which offers a robust alternative to Adobe’s PDF offerings.

In January, it upgraded Phantom to v8.2 enabling it, among other things, to turn an entire website into a PDF document.

Xerox Flexes Its Paper-Free Muscles

Finally this week, and hot on the heels of its mega release announcement a couple of weeks ago, Xerox is back with the release of Xerox DocuShare Flex for businesses, which digitizes business processes including invoicing, file sharing, editing, managing databases and storing documents.

Solutions that aim to end dependency on paper are usually geared towards enterprises, not necessarily smaller deployments. But in the case of DocuShare Flex, it is cloud-based and provides the automation, security and scalability of large-scale ECM systems, without the need of IT support. 

Not only does it automate workflows, but it can also manage and store hundreds of millions of documents.

Xerox has released DocuShare Flex in North America, and will make it available in Europe and other select regions by May 31, in Canada in June, and in Asia Pacific by the end of August.