Forrester: Upgrade pitfalls to avoid when moving to Office 2010

Summary:Forrester Research is warning business users who are ready to move to Microsoft's Office 2010 -- especially from older versions of Microsoft Office -- that they may face some easily and not-so-easily remediable pitfalls.

Forrester Research is warning business users who are ready to move to Microsoft's Office 2010 -- especially from older versions of Microsoft Office -- that they may face some easily and not-so-easily remediable pitfalls.

Microsoft officials have said Office 2010 is the fastest selling consumer version of Office to date. But the Softies haven't made the same claim on the business side, as the Forrester researchers pointed out in a December 13 research note. That's because business upgrades typically take longer to commence and complete.

From the note, entitled "Pitfalls To Avoid When Upgrading To Microsoft Office 2010":

"Microsoft Office upgrades can wreak unexpected havoc for business users if not properly planned and tested. The major causes of business disruption arise from issues with file and application compatibility and the learning curve to master the new interface."

For those users looking to move from Office 2007 to Office 2010, these issues are minimal. But for those planning to upgrade from Office 2003 or older versions, major testing and training, supplemented by the use of Microsoft- and/or third-party-provided migration tools could and should be the order of the day, Forrester said.

The move to the Office 2010 Ribbon interface could be a chore for those not familiar with it, Forrester said. But there are other lurking compatibility issues, as well, including :unsupported VBA syntax, hidden and deprecated commands, broken file links, invalid range names, and 64-bit incompatibility," according to the research note.

Here's a chart from the research note expanding on the top four compatibility gotchas that may hit enterprise users moving from older versions of Office to Office 2010:

(click on the image above to enlarge)

Businesses whose users make heavy use of Office macros also need to be aware of potential incompatibilities -- especially those creating embedded macros for Excel, Forrester warned.

Forrester advised users to weed out at-risk files using Microsoft tools including the Office Code Compatibility Inspector, the Office Migration Planning Manager and the Office Environment Assessment Tool. None of these provides remediation, however; that task often falls to users themselves or Microsoft partners, the researchers said.

Forrester advised business users embarking on an Office 2010 migration to be cognizant of apps that need mediation, prioritize sub-categories of users for migration (rather than attempting to do it wholesale), and to avoid "over-provisioning," or buying SKUs of Office that are too feature-rich for certain user categories. (Not every user in a company needs Office Professional Plus, the analysts noted; some can make do with cheaper SKUs or alternatives, like Google Docs, from Microsoft's competitors.)

Any other suggestions from the field from those who have already or are poised to move to Office 2010?

Topics: Microsoft, Collaboration, Software

About

Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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