Think of how many devices you use on a daily basis to get your job done.  You no longer use just one device, and the number of devices you do use it multiplying.  You might be sitting at your computer reading this article with your phone or tablet in your hand and maybe your laptop within arm’s reach.

Microsoft seems to be echoing the Office experience in this very same way.  Of course they want your Office content to be available on any device and at any time in a familiar way.  Microsoft is introducing a new cloud app model which will accomplish just that.  In an announcement from earlier this year, Microsoft stated “Starting October 13, 2020, Office 365 ProPlus or Office perpetual in mainstream support will be required to connect to Office 365 services.”  Basically, what they’re saying is that any organization currently using Office 365 will be required to stay on the latest version of Office beginning in 2020.

You may be thinking to yourself that this could pose a major challenge for your law firm.  And you’re right, it could.

With this statement, Microsoft is saying that any organization that uses any Office 365 service will have to stay on the latest version of Office starting in 2020.  This does present a challenge; especially for law firms with hundreds of add-ins.  Law firms that are currently using or are considering migrating to Office 365 would potentially be taking on risks with vendors.  Often, these vendor solutions are necessary, so simplifying add-ins and purchasing from one source will be crucial.  Finding a vendor that is equipped to keep up with these updates is extremely important.

Microsoft also released this statement at their annual Office Ignite conference:

“Cloud-powered innovation is a major theme at Ignite this week. But we recognize that moving to the cloud is a journey with many considerations along the way. Office 2019 will be a valuable upgrade for customers who feel that they need to keep some or all their apps and servers on-premises, and we look forward to sharing more details about the release in the coming months.”

It appears that Microsoft realizes not all of their customers are ready to make the jump to the cloud.  Likely, the new software release will have a full 10-year support cycle to give customers the chance to plan their move to the cloud.  It looks like the future for Microsoft will bring Office 365 updates every six months.  The roll out of Office 2019 will buy law firms a little bit of time, but law firms should begin addressing these new additions with vendors now.