In addition to updating my Office 365 install to the latest version, I also have a PC which is mostly kept offline. For this system, I installed Office 2016 Professional Plus (which I will describe as the on-premises version). This edition is available only under volume licensing programs from Microsoft. If you attend university or work in a company that uses Microsoft’s Home Use Program (HUP), you likely will get access to it.
The Standalone Office 2016 Install
What I noticed is that Microsoft has moved away from its traditional MSI installer which provided an interactive setup wizard for installing the suite. If you have installed previous versions of Office, you know you had the option of customizing the installation and only install the programs you need. Not anymore. Office 2016 Professional Plus has been made, well, dumb proof. The setup experience uses the same Click-to-Run technology used to install Office 365. Here is a look at it.
If you want the 64-bit version of Office 2016, you will have to specifically launch the setup64.exe file. I realized that Office 2016 setup by default will install the 32-bit version.
When you start, the installation will immediately go into the installation wizard and that will be your screen for a while.
So what’s the problem? For me personally, it’s not a big deal, but if you’re installing the latest version, you should be aware of some things about the new setup experience.
It does side-by-side installs with older versions. My older version of Office 2013 was left intact after installing Office 2016. What happens when you try to open an Office file? It defaults to the 2016 version. This also means you’ll need to manually uninstall the older version if you don’t want it.
Coming from the 2013 version of Office, I noticed the Accounts tab in Backstage now offers the Office Updates functionality which was specific to the 365 versions. This would suggest Office 2016 desktop versions will be privy to the same feature updates and fixes as the 365 versions do today. The Office team recently announced adoption of the update methodology currently used by Windows 10 for businesses, with a Current Branch for Business offering three sets of updates each year, which includes both feature and security updates delivered cumulatively.
Just like Office 365, Office 2016 uses the same repair wizard. I was hoping for this to be the method for customizing the installation, unfortunately, it offers only two options, Quick Repair, and Online Repair.
It works on Windows 8, too. My Windows 8 Pro install, which I still have running on this system, supports Office 2016. Considering that Microsoft will no longer support this version of Windows starting January 2016, it’s surprising that it made it on the list of supported operating systems.
What does all this suggest, though? Obviously it means Microsoft is accelerating its push to the cloud even faster. The products are much easier to setup and use but lack the some of the control of older versions. I suspect that this might even be the last offline version of the suite since Microsoft champions the 365 subscriptions model. I do miss the customizations, though, and one of the things I noticed is the long time it takes to get Office 2016 installed and the amount of system resources it uses throughout the process. That, too, is another reason to switch to 365 which lets you use apps while it updates in the background. Not to mention the added benefits like being more affordable up front, constant updates, and the ease of licensing multiple systems within a household.