Office 2016 has been released! Office 365 users can now download & install the latest version of Office. New apps (including Skype for Business), refinements to existing apps, and new co-authoring features abound.

There’s an excellent review of the Office 2016 suite at TheVerge.com: Microsoft Office 2016 Review – The Verge

Now, every new version has its quirks & issues. This time though, we have an issue that affects Skype for Business.

If you already run Skype for Business before installing Office 2016…Office 2016 will break it.

Why Office 2016 Attacks Your Current Skype for Business Client

Depending on your current version of Office, or certain Microsoft apps related to it, you may see an error when you install Office 2016.
“We need to remove some older apps” error – Office Support

The error triggers if certain Office 2013 components are already installed on your computer: certain versions of Visio, Project, SharePoint Designer, the OneDrive for Business client…and the Skype for Business client. These versions are viewed as “old” by Office 2016 and thus incompatible.

We’ll focus on Skype for Business here (obviously). In Skype4B’s case, Office 2016 may display an error like the one you see here:

Older Apps - Office 2016
Image courtesy of Office Support.

Or it may just remove your Skype for Business client!

Harry John has some additional information on the error, and his support efforts with Microsoft, on his blog:
Office 2016 Install – “We need to remove some older apps” – HarryJohn.org

Thanks to quick reporting from people like Harry, Microsoft IS aware of this issue & has documented it. However at this time, they can only offer a workaround.

How to Install Office 2016 and Get Skype for Business Back

Microsoft has put up two URLs documenting this error, and their workaround:
Skype for Business is removed when you upgrade to Office 2016 – Microsoft Support
Skype for Business is removed when you upgrade to Office 2016 – Office365 Community

It’s the same on both pages. The workaround involves installing a fresh, updated copy of the Skype for Business client after Office 2016 finishes installing. Versions are found at either of above URLs, listed by language.

(I downloaded the English version copy. Curiously, it’s named as a retail copy. It also reports as 32-bit.)

Essentially, this means letting Office 2016 mangle your Skype for Business, wipe it out, and then start fresh.

Not Perfect, But It Works (For Now)

I couldn’t ascertain that the same issue occurs with the Office 2016 Desktop version yet. Though it’s entirely possible the same error will occur, since its bundled Skype for Business client is newer than the one we’ve used for months.

If any of you plan to install Office 2016 Desktop, please share your experience in a comment or email. (Hopefully it’s a pleasant one!)

Upgrading to Office 2016? Prepare to Reinstall Skype for Business
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4 thoughts on “Upgrading to Office 2016? Prepare to Reinstall Skype for Business

  • September 23, 2015 at 8:11 pm
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    My questions before deploying anything are, are there licensing changes in Skype4B client in Office 2016? Is this https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3098207 … Basic version free? Limitations, comparison to previous Basic, Full versions?

    Reply
  • September 27, 2015 at 5:10 am
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    Be aware – keyboard shortcuts do not work with S4B client 2016.

    Reply
  • September 29, 2015 at 10:48 pm
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    Sheez..! Office 2016 completely broke Skype for business (Lync 2013 version). Now I am stuck on “connecting to server”, and after a while the application crashes without any error messages. Tried uninstalling office 2016, rebooting, uninstalling Skype/Lync and even tried the old Lync 2010.. Still stuck on “Connecting to server”. There are no known issues with the servers, and this started right after I installed Office 2016..

    Reply
  • January 5, 2016 at 12:29 pm
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    The two work around download URLs are One-Click versions of Skype for Business 2016. Can’t use them with Windows Installer Office 2016 version which is the one we use in our environment. Using those I can either have Skype for Business 2016 or I can have Office 2016 but not both.

    Reply

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