Office 2010 dogged by competition

Summary:Microsoft can expect a large proportion of existing Office users to upgrade to the latest Office 2010 release, but this is a good window for the competition to pose alternatives as companies consider refreshes, say analysts.

analysis Microsoft can expect a large proportion of existing Office users to upgrade to the latest Office 2010 release, but this is a good window for the competition to pose alternatives as companies consider refreshes, say analysts.

The software giant has released its Office 2010 productivity suite, and along with it a number of new features and web capabilities.

But analysts say the well-timed release of Office 2010 with companies looking to upgrade from Windows XP — and Office 2003, correspondingly — will be the deciding factor for uptake of the new, 14th release of the Office product.

In a phone interview with ZDNet Australia's sister site ZDNet Asia, Tim Sheedy, Forrester senior analyst, said: "The decision to move to Office 2010 will be part of [corporate] refreshes to Windows 7, as they move off XP."

With the majority of large companies still on XP and waiting to move to Windows 7, Microsoft can expect a big Office 2010 uptake when these firms refresh their OSes, Sheedy said.

Another factor he pointed out for companies moving to Office 2010 is the need to protect their existing back-end investments and software assets based on legacy Office products. This includes documents and Microsoft Exchange mail servers making it "hard to move off the Microsoft family", he said.

That said, Jens Butler, Ovum principal analyst, told ZDNet Asia in an email interview that most updates will be rooted in a need to upgrade, rather than as a result of the new features Microsoft has put into the product.

Both analysts noted that Microsoft has added much new functionality and features for power users, but stated that most companies are considering the move now because of refresh cycles.

Butler said this window also provides the competition, such as open source OpenOffice.org and web suites, Google Docs and Zoho, a chance to get a foot in the door.

"It is an increasingly competitive market and buyers are becoming more savvy around the value associated with their environments and the supporting services being offered. Office 2010 may not be a guaranteed upgrade," he said.

This, however, is dependent on different business cases for companies, where there may be substantial savings on licensing fees, he added.

Collaboration needs retraining

Still, Microsoft's hooks in organisations go deeper than that, Sheedy pointed out. The company has focused on integrating the different elements of Office 2010, such as SharePoint and Exchange, which present a "powerful, end-to-end" package for document collaboration when combined, he said.

Microsoft general manager, information worker business group lead for Asia-Pacific, Mike Tuohy, emphasised productivity gains that companies can reap as a result of collaboration.

In an interview with ZDNet Asia on Wednesday for the launch of Office 2010, Tuohy said this was a focus in the company's development of Office, from smaller features such as email consolidation to broader integration within the Office family such as co-authoring of Word documents.

He quoted a study done by Forrester, estimating that companies will achieve return on investment on Office within a year. Another figure from the study translated the average productivity gain to two work weeks per year of time saved.

Topics: Microsoft, Software

About

Victoria Ho is a tech journalist based in Singapore, whose writing has appeared in publications such as ZDNet, TechCrunch, and The Business Times. When she's not obsessing about IT, you can find her tinkering with music and daydreaming about which guitar to buy next.

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