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Microsoft feature and application retirement dates to remember in 2021

The year 2021 will see a number of important Microsoft applications reach a state of deprecation and retirement. We list a few your business should keep track of.

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With Microsoft’s commitment to a continuously updated Windows 10 operating system and Microsoft 365 productivity suite, old features and applications are removed almost as fast as new features are introduced. Keeping up with all the changes, especially in a business enterprise environment can be a full-time job and a bit of a challenge.

SEE: Checklist: Securing Windows 10 systems (TechRepublic Premium)

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To help us keep up, Microsoft sends periodic email messages about upcoming feature additions and feature retirements, but items may still get lost in the shuffle of busy schedules and ordinary business operations. The year 2021 will see a number of important applications and features of Microsoft 365 reach a state of deprecation and retirement. Here are a few every business enterprise IT department should be aware of as the year progresses.

2021 Microsoft feature retirement dates

TLS 1.0 and TLS 1.1—Jan. 11, 2021

The most immediate feature to be retired is support for TLS 1.0 and TLS 1.1 with regard to Exchange Online. Support for those protocols will cease beginning Jan. 11. Customers should already be using TLS1.2 to protect SMTP connections between their email servers or devices and Exchange Online.

Organizations that are most at risk are those with hybrid routing and on-premises servers. Any mail servers, devices, or applications sending emails to your Exchange Online endpoint or receiving email from Exchange Online servers will need to be upgraded to make use of TLS1.2.

Skype for Business Online Connector—Feb. 15, 2021

Microsoft will be retiring the Skype for Business Online Connector on Feb. 15, for all Skype for Business Online or Microsoft Teams customers. After this change is implemented, administrators will no longer be able to download and use the Skype for Business Online Connector to manage online organizations and users. Instead of using the Skype for Business Online Connector, users will be required to use latest release of Teams PowerShell module.

This change serves Microsoft’s intention to move all Skype for Business users to the Microsoft Teams platform. All future effort toward improvements, feature development, and security protocols will be applied to Microsoft Teams, and Skype for Business is effectively deprecated and retired.

Microsoft Edge Legacy—March 9, 2021

Microsoft Edge Legacy desktop application support will end on March 9. After support ends, Microsoft Edge Legacy will not receive new security updates. For most organizations, potential complications from the loss of support can be easily avoided by deploying the Windows 10 20H2 package to your environment, which includes the latest version of Microsoft Edge.

Organizations looking for guidance on how to transition from Microsoft Edge Legacy may want to see:

Microsoft 365 support for IE 11 – Aug. 17, 2021

Effective Aug. 17, Microsoft 365 services and applications will no longer support Internet Explorer 11 (IE 11). In addition, Microsoft 365 apps and services will be unable to connect, or at a minimum have a degraded feature experience, when accessed on IE 11.

This should come as no surprise to any business enterprise because Microsoft has been phasing out support for IE 11 for years now. All organizations should have retired IE 11 by now, but if you have not you should do so well before the August deadline and deploy the latest version of Microsoft Edge or some other up-to-date web browser for your users. This is an imperative security measure.

Visio Web Access—Sept. 30, 2021

As of Sept. 30, Visio Web Access (Visio Service) and its Web Part for SharePoint Online will no longer be available to customers. Microsoft is migrating all its customers to Visio Online, which is available for an additional subscription price.

When this migration takes effect, users in your organization will only be able to view Visio diagrams in their browsers. They will not be able to create or edit diagrams. Visio Online viewing is available to most Office 365 subscriptions at no additional cost.

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