Computer Weekly Editor's Blog

May 11 2010   3:17PM GMT

Microsoft Office 2010: Will you bother to upgrade?

Bryan Glick Bryan Glick Profile: Bryan Glick

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To upgrade or not to upgrade, that is the question for most of Microsoft’s customers.

There were times when the latest release of a new version of a major Microsoft product was a huge catalyst for IT spending. Many IT managers will remember planning their strategy around the anticipated timings of future releases and the new functionality they promised. Microsoft’s corporate licensing and pricing policy has traditionally been predicated on the expectation that users will upgrade at least once every three years.

But the reality of technology strategy today is very different – and since the disappointment that was Windows Vista, so are the attitudes of IT managers.

So what are the prospects for Office 2010? After Windows, this is the most used and most financially important product range in Microsoft’s portfolio. While lower-cost alternatives such as Google Apps and Openoffice have made occasional inroads into the market, Office remains the de facto standard productivity suite for most organisations.

But let’s face it, how often do your users come to you and say, “I really need Microsoft Word/Excel/Powerpoint/Outlook to have more functionality.” Most people use only a fraction of the features in Office, so apart from the withdrawal of support for older versions, why go through the pain of upgrading?

Inevitably that will be a question asked by many IT leaders, and it is down to each individual situation to look at the new features and judge whether the business case stacks up.

For Microsoft however, it is a question that goes right to the heart of the product development strategy that has kept the company leading the market for 30 years.

Corporate IT is fed up with the endless version release cycle. In a world of cloud computing, nobody knows or cares – Google can roll out new features overnight; how many Salesforce.com users are bothered what version they are on?

By the time Office 2010’s successor arrives, the three-yearly upgrade concept will seem antiquated. This change in customer behaviour and expectation threatens Microsoft’s dominance more than any new functionality improvements from its rivals.

3  Comments on this Post

 
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  • reader1
    You don't write an article like this unless you have serious problem with msft. the tile itself will cost msft a lot money regardless what you say is true or false. You know, Vista disappointment 90% percent came from media, not the truth itself. I have been using Vista, and developing on Vista, I have never found a problem the media has said. Every one around me tell me Vista is slow, when I try their machines, they are not slow at all. They get all these from the media. Sad!
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  • Lloyd Kendrick
    Microsoft's own decision to abandon Vista support already speaks volumes.

    If you've never had a problem using and developing on Vista, you're either very lucky or not asking much of the OS itself.

    I used it. I hated it. I dumped it.
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  • Robert Walker
    I don't think this is very fair. There is so much reason to upgrade, even from version 2007 to 2010. There are plenty of websites clearly showing the advantages of 2010 - this one is clear: www.onsitetrainingcourses.com.au/main/page_blog_microsoft_office_2010_summary_review.html and this one is comprehensive: www.beingmanan.com/wp/2009/05/office-2010-new-features/

    I don't think there's any doubt. And Vista had serious problems but it did get a bit of a bad wrap - and Windows 7 may not have been as good as it could have been if Microsoft weren't prompted by the unhappy users.

    Let progress ride I say! :)
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