Microsoft's Blunder: Upgrade to Office 2016 and Lose Skype for Business
Paying customers using Office 365 or using Office 2013 have been receiving offers to upgrade to Office 2016 since September 2015. The upgrade process itself is quite easy to perform. All you need to do is download an executable file from your Office 365 dashboard, run it, and wait a few moments. So far so good.
However, almost one year after the upgrades began, some issues are still not solved, and in fact, some—like the one described here—are actually a downgrade for paying customers.
Take, for example, Skype for Business. Many organizations rely on this application (once called Lync, and that was not the first name it used) for internal phone, chat and collaboration. Skype for Business, although not without small perks, is truly a useful app—especially since it was bundled so well with Office 365. All you needed to do, if you had the right Office 365 subscription, was to download it from the software portal, deploy it to your users, control some settings through GPO, and voila, it just worked.
Say Goodbye to Traditional PC Lifecycle Management
Traditional IT tools, including Microsoft SCCM, Ghost Solution Suite, and KACE, often require considerable custom configurations by T3 technicians (an expensive and often elusive IT resource) to enable management of a hybrid onsite + remote workforce. In many cases, even with the best resources, organizations are finding that these on-premise tools simply cannot support remote endpoints consistently and reliably due to infrastructure limitations.
Yet since September 2015, when Office 365 customers using Office 2013 started getting the offer to upgrade to Office 2016, no warning was given to them that by doing so you are actually going to degrade your functionality and available services—even though you are actually paying for them.
Clicking on the “Why would I install Office 2013?” link brings up this window:
Reading the relevant TechNet article shows there is no mention of this issue either:
Searching for a solution on the web brings up a few results. Here is one of them:
Yet as of this moment, KB 3098207 is no longer available.
This official support page does mention some issues with application compatibility, but fails to mention Skype for Business:
I did find what seems to be an official Microsoft response to this issue, but the link in it no longer works:
Current Status: Engineers have validated the solution will mitigate user impact and will be initiating the fix deployment process.
User Experience: Affected users who have upgraded to Office 2016 are unable to install Skype for Business 2016. The Skype for Business 2016 installation URL located on the Office 365 homepage is not routing affected users to the newest version of Skype for Business. As a result, some users may receive the error message: “We have detected that you have a newer version of Office installed on your device. If you want to install an older version of Office, please remove these newer products and try again.”
As a workaround, the affected users can download the Skype for Business 2016 client at https://community.office365.com/en-us/w/lync/skype-for-business-is-removed-when-you-upgrade-to-office-2016
Customer Impact: Impact is isolated to customers who have purchased an Office 365 business Premium subscription and have upgraded to Office 2016. Analysis indicates that the scope of customers experiencing impact appears to be very limited with only a few customers reporting the issue.
Looking for answers on the web I did find a few that may be helpful:
Some IT experts that I consulted with told me that Skype for Business does work in their environment. While this may be true, too many people report the same behavior as described here.
Tracking down some installation files from Google’s cache, I came up with these downloads for Skype for Business:
Running the setup:
What’s your experience? Do any of these solutions work for you?
Still investigating this year long issue, and will update the moment I find a solution.