“What’s This About an Updated Protocol in Outlook on Halloween?  Should I Be Concerned?”

If you’re like most people, you rely on Outlook email to maintain connections both inside and outside your business.  Now there’s critical protocol change in Outlook that could negatively affect your ability to use it if you’re not informed.

MS Outlook Protocol Changes

If you’re running Office 2007, 2010, 2013 or 2016, take heed – The winds of change (or perhaps a hurricane) are coming your way.

On October 31, 2017, Microsoft will officially replace RPC over HTTP protocol in Exchange Online with the more modern MAPI over HTTP. No, it’s not a trick for Halloween, however it can trip you up if you’re not prepared. Whether your specific configuration is affected depends on a variety of factors, such as whether you’re running on premise or cloud-based software.

At a bare minimum, you should review your current control settings to ensure the latest patches and updates were applied.

The Updated Protocol

In May 2014, Microsoft released an updated protocol called MAPI over HTTP to create a modern networking environment that supported seamless mobility, regardless of the device used. This release included a time schedule to retire RPC over HTTP, a 10+ year old protocol that doesn’t provide the same ability to hop between networks as the updated MAPI convention.

Remote Procedure Calls, or RPCs, were revolutionary in their day, as they allowed Outlook Anywhere to transport information without the need for a firewall or VPN (virtual private network) –as long as a secure HTTPS connection was enabled. Microsoft’s utilization of this protocol allowed Outlook clients to reduce dependence on extended synchronization sessions and tiresome dial-up connections, and move into the new wave of WiFi connectivity and mobile computing.

Today, the enhanced functionality from MAPI over HTTP enables additional sign-on scenarios, removes dependence on legacy technology, and improves overall connection resiliency when the network drops packets in transit.

“Will My Platform Be Affected?”

Organizations are currently using an on-premise Exchange Server will continue business as usual and experience no adverse effects from the protocol migration. (If you run Windows 10 Mobile, Outlook on the Web, Outlook for Mac, iOS, Windows Mobile or Android you won’t be affected by the switch.)

However, businesses connected to Exchange Online mailboxes in Office 365, and that use Outlook for Windows must review their current setup and determine which upgrade path makes sense (or they risk losing system functionality and availability).

“What Upgrade Recommendations Do You Advise?”

In many cases, the best recommendation is to bring your Outlook installation into a more contemporary platform, such as the latest version of Outlook 2016 within Office 365 (part of Office 365 ProPlus).

However, if this option isn’t feasible for you to do before October 31, 2017, there are a few options that will allow you to continue using your corporate email and avoid disruptions in connectivity until you can put a more permanent solution in place.

The minimum updates are listed below:

  • Office 2016: December 8, 2015 update, MSI: 16.0.4312.1001
  • Office 2013: Office 2013 Service Pack 1 (SP1) and December 8, 2015 update, MSI: 15.0.4779.1002
  • Office 2010: Office 2010 Service Pack 2 (SP2) and December 8, 2015 update, MSI: 14.0.7164.5002

However, while these updates should provide you the ability to maintain usability of your Outlook software, it’s recommended that you move to Office 365.

Remember, maintaining a solid update schedule for your office productivity software ensures you’ll have access to security patches for identified vulnerabilities.

“What Are the Benefits of Migrating to Office 365?”

While some organizations are still most comfortable with an on-premise solution, Office 365 offers a variety of benefits. Since all upgrades are handled on the server side, there’s no need to update individual workstations, or even push an upgrade to users.

Office 365 provides a variety of benefits over on-premise solutions, including:

  • Scalable options that allow you to right-size your licensing over time.
  • There’s no need to overspend on licensing when planning for future growth.
  • You can select the pricing level that fits your budget and needs.
  • It provides the flexibility to install one license for up to five individual devices.
  • It reduces the overall risk of data loss due to rigorous backup and disaster- recovery protocols.
  • There’s no need to perform upgrades, as new functionality is available immediately.

While migration can be a bit challenging, with the support of a managed service provider, you can successfully achieve a fast adoption of Office 365 online.

If you need assistance with your Outlook Exchange or Office 365 migration, contact the professionals at Kraft Technology Group at (615) 600-4411 email}. Our security and infrastructure professionals will work closely with you to ensure you’re receiving the best possible pricing and support for your office productivity needs.