Next up on Microsoft's dust heap: Office 2010

The end of support for Office 2010 is coming up in less than 10 months. What does that mean for companies still running the aging Office suite? We've got answers.

clock superimposed on monthly calendar

With Windows 7's retirement from support now behind everyone, the next major marker for a Microsoft expiration arrives in a little less than 10 months, when Office 2010 falls off the servicing list.

Big yawn, right?

Not really. According to an admittedly past-sale-date survey of nearly 1,200 IT professionals in the U.S., the U.K. and Canada in September 2017, 68% of the respondents said that their companies were still running Office 2007.

Office 2007's end of support was Oct. 10, 2017, or less than a month after these IT people were polled.

There's little reason to think that the percentage of companies now running Office 2010 would be much less. (Nor, according to Spiceworks, will everyone ditch Office 2010 by the deadline; in the fall of 2017, 46% of those surveyed said their workplaces still had Office 2003 running; that version dead-ended in April 2014.)

So, it's time to tackle Office 2010. We've compiled some of the important questions — not all of them, not here, we'll have to revisit this later this year — and their answers.

When does Office 2010's support expire?

Oct. 13, 2020. That's 10 years and three months after Microsoft launched the productivity suite on July 15, 2010. After that October date, Microsoft will no longer issue patches for security vulnerabilities in the bundle's applications, fix any non-security bugs that may have been overlooked all these years or offer technical support for the product.

Office 2010's applications will still open after Oct. 13 — even on Windows 10 — users will still be able to edit existing content and create new documents, and businesses can, licenses willing, still install the suite on new PCs.

Will Microsoft offer some kind of post-retirement support?


"There will be no extension and no extended security updates," Microsoft clearly stated in this support document.

The phrase "extended security updates" is key to understanding Microsoft's position here, as that's the same term it's using to describe the after-end-of-support support for Windows 7, which is being carried on the rolls of the not-dead-yet for three years.

For a price, naturally.

We're still using Windows 7. I heard Microsoft will keep patching Office on Windows 7. Is that right?

Well, no. Okay, kind of.

You're thinking of Office 365 ProPlus, the name for the applications provided with an enterprise-grade Office 365 or Microsoft 365 subscription. Microsoft will continue to provide security updates for Office 365 ProPlus on Windows 7 until January 2023. Not coincidentally, that's the end of the Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESU), the post-retirement paid support program for the outdated OS.

We're going to run Windows 7 as long as possible. What are our options for an Office 2010 replacement?

Well, Office 2019 is out. That "perpetual" suite — called that because it's licensed with an up-front payment and comes with rights to run the apps forever — is supported only on Windows 10.

Here are the alternatives:

  • Office 2013. Because support ends April 11, 2023 — in a little over three years — it's probably a dumb move. Do you really want to do this all over again that soon?
  • Office 2016. Support's good until Oct. 14, 2025, so you'll have half a decade. Like Office 2010, this is a perpetually-licensed product — available in versions including Office Professional 2016 and Office Professional Plus 2016, the latter sold solely via volume licensing — tied to a specific device.
  • Non-Microsoft application suite. Free, open-source options include LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice, as well as the yes-it's-still-alive commercial WordPerfect Office.
  • Office 365. Oh, man. That's an entirely different can of worms.

I dare you to take my Windows 7. I double dare you. So, can we dump Office 2016 for Office 365?

Yes. But only because Microsoft violated yet another of its decades-long rules.

Windows 7 PCs running Office 365 ProPlus will receive security updatesbut no feature updates — until January 2023, the same month that the ESU (Extended Security Updates) after-expiration patch program ends.

For those users, Office 365 ProPlus will stop and stay at version 2002, the one that will be delivered to customers between now and July. The features in version 2002 will be the end of the ProPlus line for Windows 7, even though security updates will be delivered to all Office 365 ProPlus customers (not just those who covered their Windows 7 PCs with ESU).

What does Microsoft want customers running Office 2010 to do?

The answer starts with S-U-B and ends with I-O-N.

Microsoft gives Office 365 ProPlus pride of place in virtually every support or marketing document aimed at those needing to transition from an out-of-date Office. Even in the trivial — the order they're touted — Microsoft leans heavily on the subscription service.

That's no surprise; Microsoft has made it clear that it prefers Office revenue to flow into its coffers regularly, repetitively. It has gone as far as to disparage one of its products, Office 2019, in favor of another, Office 365. That was a very odd thing to do.

Microsoft has also ended the traditional support span for Office. Rather than a full decade of support, which would have taken Office 2019 to October 2028, the suite will receive seven years, with retirement on Oct. 10, 2023. (That's the same expiration date as Office 2016's.)

It's plain that Microsoft wants customers of all kinds, consumers and small businesses as well as enterprises, to pay for Office forever, not just once.

Keep that in mind if you're considering replacing Office 2010 with, say, 2019, you'll be fighting a stiff headwind.

So it's out with Office 2016, in with Office 365?

Not necessarily, but that shift to Office 365 and its ProPlus will happen at some point. If not now — because your company decided to stick with Office 2019 running on Windows 10 — at some point. Eventually, Microsoft will kill the perpetual license version of Office, no matter how many times it says it will craft a next edition or consider feedback. It's simply making too many deleterious moves against perpetual, notably the support shortening of Office 2019.

You can put off Office 365, but we're certain you can't avoid it forever.

What's the least expensive Office 365 alternative to Office 2010?

That would be Office 365 ProPlus and Office 365 Business, two applications-only SKUs (stock-keeping units) suitable for larger and smaller customers, respectively.

Office 365 ProPlus costs $12 per month per user — Microsoft's subscriptions license a user, unlike the perpetual licenses, which tie a product to a device — for a total of $144 per year. This SKU does not have a minimum or maximum limit to the number of licenses, making it the default for large organizations. It includes Word, Outlook, Excel, and PowerPoint, along with Teams and OneDrive.

Office 365 Business is the name of the same — more or less — for smaller customers, since a maximum of 300 users can be licensed. It includes Word, Outlook, Excel, Access and PowerPoint, as well as OneDrive. This SKU costs $8.25 per user per year (when paid for annually), or $99 a year.

Unlike most other Office 365 SKUs, these are bare-to-the-bones offers that do not include the raft of services which have marked the subscriptions, such as Exchange, SharePoint and Advanced Threat Protection (ATP). They're most like a perpetual license in that they provide only the core applications.

For that reason, they're not only the least expensive, but also the easiest to adopt for a customer — especially a small business sans solid in-house IT support coming off Office 2010 (or 2016). For the same reason, they make an attractive option to larger businesses that don't care to change what's working well, such as on-premises Exchange or something other than Teams for workgroup communication and collaboration.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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