While many of us are still holding onto summer, it is mid-September and Fall is just around the corner. And that means a fairly important Microsoft deadline will soon be upon us. As of November 1, 2021 only Outlook 2013 Service Pack 1 (with latest fixes) and later versions will be able to connect to Microsoft 365 services.
This is not breaking news for most IT professionals and system admins. Over the past few years, Microsoft has communicated detailed and helpful information as to this deadline. And with the COVID-19 crisis impacting all of 2020 and 2021, Microsoft has also made updates and adjustments to this and other deadlines as to version requirement changes for several Microsoft services. So, there has been ample warning as to the deadline.
Additionally, many of the Office 365 customers we engage with are using Office 365 ProPlus, which is the subscription-based version of Office. Microsoft has also indicated that since the end of 2020, they have seen a substantial drop in usage of the soon-to-be unsupported versions of Outlook for Windows. So many customers have heeded the call. For the few who have not, Microsoft has taken a very proactive approach with its Customer Support Team by reaching out to identified tenants still with heavy usage of Outlook 2007 and 2010 in an effort to help those last few meet the November 1st deadline.
So . . . if most of us have met the deadline, and the few remaining are on their way, then what’s there left to talk about? Modern Authentication.
Aside from all the reasons Microsoft has given for its changes to Outlook for Windows, an important reason has to do with the move from Basic Authentication to Modern Authentication. Microsoft is blocking older versions of Outlook (such as Outlook 2007 and 2010) because support for Basic Authentication is ending. This has been an ongoing effort by Microsoft to increase the security of Microsoft 365 by relying on Modern Authentication protocols which are more secure than Basic Authentication.
Additionally, Modern Authentication provides compliance and policy controls which allow you to manage your data. And even with Microsoft’s plan to disable Basic Authentication protocols, first announced September 2019, they have made adjustments to this plan in an effort to facilitate as many customers as possible knowing how difficult change is in general as well as recognizing the hardships of enterprise change given the global impacts of COVID-19.
And this final movement away from Basic Auth to Modern Auth is important not just from Microsoft’s perspective. Modern Authentication allows you to always remain up to date with security fixes. And given all the exploited vulnerabilities we have seen in the past two years, systems security and data protection are key. And then there are the benefits to any enterprise in "staying current.” Current and up to date security fixes protect your organization's systems and devices against known vulnerabilities. From an end-user experience position, current versions allow for more reliability of service.
For most of the IT and sys admin community, the November 1 deadline may not be that important. They are either already where they need to be as far as Outlook and Office 365 versions, or they will soon get there given the great customer support Microsoft is providing to get them there. The important take away is the need for enterprises to "stay current."
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