Learn Is It Safe to Use an Old Version of Microsoft Office

Microsoft has just released Office 2016, but some people are still using versions of the suite that are more than a decade old. What risks are they taking?

All software has a ‘lifecycle’. It gets developed, released, updated and eventually abandoned — usually after a new version or two has been released in the meantime. There’s nothing to stop you using software that’s been dropped by its developer in this way, but with no further updates or bug fixes in prospect, you face an uncertain future if something goes wrong with it.

We’ve written much about the demise of Windows XP over recent months, not least since it was launched 14 years ago and was only finally abandoned by Microsoft in April last year. Microsoft makes more than just operating systems, of course, and it’s other hugely popular application is Office — so what’s happening with its lifecycle?

When is Microsoft Office dropped?

Microsoft Office has been around for decades — the first PC version launched in 1990 and the most recent (Office 2016) was released at the end of September.

Microsoft has obviously long since abandoned older versions of Office and next on the hit list is Office 2010. Released in June 2010, its ‘mainstream’ support comes to an end on October 12th this year — a five-year lifecycle is usual for all Microsoft software. That means unless any outstanding bugs affect its (or Windows’) security, they won’t be fixed after this date.

The clock then starts ticking for ‘extended’ support and, in another five years, that also ends. That means Microsoft then won’t issue updates of any kind for Office 2010 and it then joins Office 2007, Office 2003, Office XP, Office 97 and Office 95 in the halls of obsolete Microsoft Office suites.

Gone, but not forgotten

‘Obsolete’ doesn’t mean ‘useless’, of course, and anecdotal evidence suggests that Office users tend to stick with what they’ve got rather than rush to upgrade to the latest version — unless they’re Office 360 subscribers, that is.

And by ‘anecdotal’ we mean that this piece is being written on Office 2008 for Mac — and we’re sure many of you are still using something older. Office XP (from 2002) still installs and runs perfectly well with Windows 10, for example, but is it really a good idea to keep using Office software that’s so old?

The simple answer, as you might expect, is ‘no’.