What to expect from the New Office 365 Upgrades

Microsoft is upgrading the entire Office 365 environment with new 2013 releases of Exchange, Lync, SharePoint, and Office. This upgrade brings important requirements, recommendations, and dates that all Office 365 administrators should be aware in preparing for their upgrade date. To best organize the most recent information received from the Office 365 Technical Team, here is a list of FAQs with appropriate responses. Microsoft Office 365

What are the new benefits for end-users?

  1. Access a full-featured version of Office streamed to any internet-connected PC with Office on Demand. Sign in and gain access to your documents and settings exactly the way you left them.
  2. Site Mailboxes Sync to SharePoint and allow teams to collaborate better with cloud storage.
  3. Lync Web App upgraded to HD, and includes a “Brady Bunch” style group video conferencing feature. See everyone at once.

What are the new benefits for admins?

  1. Protect sensitive data
    Data loss prevention (DLP) can prevent users from mistakenly sending sensitive information. Exchange has built-in, extensible DLP policies for common regulatory standards (PII, HIPAA, PCI).
  2. Improved eDiscovery
    The new eDiscovery Center lets you identify, hold, and analyze all your Office 365 data. The data always remains in place so you don’t need to manage a separate data store.
  3. Manage and control your business more easily
    Improvements to web-based management portal and PowerShell scripting.
    Continued investment in infrastructure, data backup, disaster recovery, and redundant data centers. A new service health dashboard with customizable reports for insights into your service.

When will I be upgraded?

Upgrade notifications will be sent 14 days prior to date. Some select users have already received the opportunity to upgrade in January.

*Standalone Exchange Online tenants will be upgraded first, with E Suite tenants to follow.

US tenants will be upgraded first, followed by the UK, Europe, and Africa a few months later, and wrapping up with Japan and the rest of Asia in late 2013.

Can I postpone my upgrade date?

Yes. Microsoft is allowing customers to postpone for up to 3 months, with early November being the latest date to upgrade. At that point all users will be forced to upgrade.

What are the system requirement changes?

  1. In 2012
    1. New browser minimums: Internet Explorer 8, Safari 5; latest Chrome and Firefox
    2. Windows Server 2003 not supported as an end-user client
  2. In 2013 and beyond
    1. April 2013: New Macintosh Office minimum, Office 2011 for Mac
    2. Summer 2013: Patch for Outlook 2007 & 2010 (dates TBD)
    3. January 2014: New Windows minimums, Windows 7
    4. April 2014: New Outlook minimum, Outlook 2007
  3. The next version of the Office client
    1. Requires Windows 7 or Windows 8
  4. XP and earlier OS environments will experience service degradation after April 8th 2014. It is recommended you upgrade to Win 7 or Win 8 before that time. (Upgrade months sooner to avoid issues)

How will hybrid deployments be affected? (ACTION REQUIRED)

  1. Hybrid environments are required to download Exchange 2010 Service Pack 3 upon release in late February. Without SP3 customers will not be able to utilize the Exchange Management Console)
  2. All tenants using the 32-bit DirSync Tool will need to upgrade to 64-bit

How can I better prepare for the upgrade?

  1. Do a pilot upgrade for a specific set of your users. Pilot upgrade requests can be done through the upgrade portal. Contact your O365 Partner for details.
  2. Postpone your upgrade only if you need to test connected applications. The upgrade will not require significant attention as the BPOS upgrade to O365 did. There will be no disruption to mobile connections, mailboxes, or Lync.
  3. Work with an Office 365 Microsoft Partner to coordinate your upgrade plans to have best support. (En Pointe Technologies has a 24/7 support team, 4 Microsoft vTSP’s on staff, and has deployed over 1 million Office 365 users)

For more information about all Office 365 upgrades, or to speak with an Office 365 subject matter expert, please email our team at office365@enpointe.com. Follow @enpointetech to stay current on all Office 365 news on Twitter.

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