Not too long ago, Microsoft released the newest version of their productivity suite, Office 2016. I still recall (with a moist eye) my days on the Microsoft support line fielding questions on Word for Windows 2.0. The thought of a “Mail Merge” still makes my stomach drop (it doubtless has the same effect on you, just for different reasons).

This newest version of Office focuses on better collaboration, real time “team editing” and default cloud storage. And it got me thinking about how Enterprise customers will manage the switch to O2016. More importantly, will this be a “switch” at all, or a cumulative Office sprawl?

As I travel the globe talking to customers and partners about a variety of mobility and workspace subjects, Microsoft Office is usually at the forefront of their minds (kind of like The Walking Dead, cat memes, or bacon). And the most common theme is, “Sean, I need to run multiple versions of office simultaneously.”

Now, there are a number of reasons for this, but let me give you some of the most common examples.

  1. “I have home-grown macros that are version specific to Office 2010.”
  2. “I have critical Line Of Business apps that depend on Office 2013.”
  3. “We have a very sophisticated database app that integrates with Excel 2007.”

No matter what your reason, you, too, may find yourself in the same boat. And as you may very well know, you cannot install more than one version of Microsoft Office on a given device. This begs the question, how do you manage all your Offices easily and securely?

Of course we have been doing this for decades with Citrix XenApp, or when Office 95–WinFrame–was released. By virtualizing each version of Office on XenApp servers and provisioning them out to your employees who need access to the varied versions, these employees can run Excel 2007, 2010, 2013 and 2016 side by side on the end point of their choice. That’s right, because it is the real Office then it is the same great user experience even when they run it from their Mac, iOS, Android, Chromebooks, oh my!

And because all of these versions of Office run in the data center, next to the sensitive files employees work from, you have also enhanced your security strategy. Nothing on the end point means no loss from forgotten or stolen laptops, tablets, phones, etc. My good friend @VirtualPenny just penned a blog about “That Guy”.

Now, I would be remiss if I didn’t take a pragmatic approach to the addition of Office 2016 into your application portfolio. Before you deploy O2016, you have to ask yourself one question (in your best Dirty Harry voice), “will this new version of office cause issues with current apps and interoperability?” That’s a question that will be answered by AppDNA and keep you off the evening news. HINT: Think of the recent airline carriers whose flights were delayed and cancelled for days due to a software update.

I want to close with some insight into the future of Office and XenApp. We have been working closely with the Microsoft team in Redmond to bring an even greater user experience to Skype for Business and Outlook. This is known internally by both teams as “Project Goldfinger” and is another example of how this 25+ year partnership continues to grow, evolve and expand with our joint customers in mind.

Lastly, I hear the question that is top of mind for you, “But Sean, what about Windows 10 and Office 365?” Well, I’m happy to say we have a great webinar that covers both of them and you can watch it here. Dirty Harry voices optional.