Aussie organisations shun Office 2010

Aussie organisations shun Office 2010

Summary: No large Australian organisations are known to be planning an Office 2010 migration, and many have not even completed their move to Office 2007.

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TOPICS: CXO, Software
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While Microsoft gears up for the launch of its new Office 2010 suite early next year, it appears the company will struggle to entice corporate customers to adopt the new software.

(Credit: Microsoft)

For years, Microsoft has relied on various incarnations of Office to deliver a steady revenue stream with regular version updates adding healthy spikes to the numbers. However, a straw poll by ZDNet.com.au of a number of large Australian organisations has found none are even considering making a move to the new suite. Many have not even completed their migration to the current Office 2007 edition.

Group executive, business technology at financial services giant Suncorp, Jeff Smith, said his organisation had standardised on Office 2007 but had no plans "at this stage" to move to the new version.

"Suncorp invested significantly in standardising its desktop offering following the merger with Promina," said Smith. "We believe the capability and productivity benefits we have gained from having all our employees on a standard desktop will continue over the medium term and outweigh the business benefits of an immediate upgrade to Office 2010."

Though Smith stressed desktop software was something that was "under constant review" and so he wouldn't rule out a future, staged upgrade. "Suncorp's business technology team has successfully undertaken a number of large roll-outs in recent years since the merger with Promina," he says. "With 17,000 employees in around 450 sites across Australia and New Zealand, we tend to take a phased approach to large roll-outs."

At professional services firm KPMG, the prospect of moving to Office 2010 is even further away. The Australian arm of the company follows the global standard for desktops, which is a combination of Windows XP and Office 2003.

"We are moving globally to Windows 7 and Office 07 later this year," said KPMG IT services head Tony Grooby. "The majority of our clients have not upgraded to 2007 and we are upgrading people if and when required for client purposes. The same would apply for Office 2010."

The lack of a pressing business case to warrant an upgrade to the new Office suite is also evident in the education sector. At the University of Western Sydney, such a change is not even on the radar for the IT department. UWS IT director Mick Houlahan said his massive fleet of more than 6500 desktops was currently running Windows XP and Office 2003.

"We only started to roll out Office 2007 from this month (July) so we only have a handful out there at this stage. Most of our stuff is still '03," he said.

Houlahan said the move to Office 2007 was linked with a move to Windows Vista, which will be gradually rolled out across the university. "It's a big project because it impacts all our users and labs," he said. "We are approaching the upgrade project in what I would describe as a 'gentle but formal manner'."

UWS leases most of its computer hardware on a three-year cycle and application upgrades tend to be tied to new hardware. So Houlahan said it was likely there would still be pockets of XP/Office 2003 machines used in three years' time.

The upgrade plan calls for the 1200 desktop machines in computer labs to be upgraded by the start of semester one in February next year. Significant effort is also being put into training staff to ensure they are comfortable with the new applications. "Office 2010 is not really on the radar for us," said Houlahan. "We talked about it and asked: 'What has it got that 2007 doesn't?' It's possibly more stable but not a lot else."

Office 2010 is not really on the radar for us. We talked about it and asked: 'What has it got that 2007 doesn't?' It's possibly more stable but not a lot else.

UWS IT director Mick Houlahan

Meanwhile, Microsoft has started highlighting some of the features it believes will provide sufficient reason for users to move to Office 2010. These include improved collaboration and the offer of a free, web-based version of the suite.

However, such baubles don't seem to have yet caught the attention of many IT chiefs in the corporate world. For them, wringing the most value out of their existing software investments seems to be a much higher priority.

At energy company Caltex, a roll-out of more than 2400 copies of Office 2007 was completed last year. There are now no plans to move to Office 2010 until sometime in 2011. Caltex Australia's chief information officer Nigel Clark declined to say whether there were any features that had been identified in the new suite that would benefit staff.

"We haven't done a technical assessment yet," he said. "This will occur in the first half of 2010." Clark said it was always the company's intent to be using the current version of applications, but this didn't mean it has to adopt new software as soon as it was launched.

"In most cases, we wait for the first service pack on a new application to be released before we migrate. This helps to reduce the change impact on our employees," he said.

When the move to Office 2010 occurred, Clark said a phased rather than "big bang" approach would be taken. Because of the geographic spread of the Caltex operations, this would allow change management and training to be undertaken in a consistent manner.

This approach is one also followed by New South Wales electricity transmission company TransGrid, whose operations cover the entire state. TransGrid chief information officer Henry Tan said his organisation was still undertaking a phased implementation of Office 2007 and this was scheduled to be completed in December this year.

"There are currently no plans to upgrade to Office 2010 when it ships," he said. "TransGrid does not automatically upgrade to the latest version of desktop software. The decision to upgrade is driven by factors such as functionality that adds value to the business, stability, security, cost, training, transition and compatibility."

Topics: CXO, Software

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13 comments
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  • Doh!

    It's well off being out and anyone thinking enterprises will even seriously consider it right now needs their head read.

    Office will tend to be deeply embedded in many enterprise processes and will thus require lots of due diligence to ensure compatibility or ascertain the level of adaptation required.

    Depending upon usage, Office may require more testing than a new OS.
    anonymous
  • Dingbats

    ..another story just like the Windows 7 one ... a report on what people are not doing with something that has not been released yet!! ZD, please lift your game..
    anonymous
  • what makes a suvey

    "However, a straw poll by ZDNet.com.au of a number of large Australian organisations..."

    exactly how many orgs did zdnet survey, how was it conducted and was it conducted by an independent research organisation? more transparency please!
    anonymous
  • Driven by need rather than availability

    As with everything now, businesses are driven by need rather than the simple availability of a product. This is true of Office, Windows, Unified Comms, SANs, Virtualisation, anything.

    One example of "need" in Office 2010 will be early adopters of Exchange Server 2010 (itself having some very compelling features to drive adoption) who want to take advantage of functionality that will only be available to Outlook 2010 clients.
    anonymous
  • Please do more research

    I notice you quote jeff Smth from Suncorp. A couple of facts that influence his comments that you need to be aware of
    a) Suncorp chose NOT to renew their EA when the recession hit and they suddenly had to chop $20mill out of their IT budget. So likely they aren't covered for the upgrade under SA anymore, so they'd have to pay for it
    b) Jeff Smith is a long time Microsoft hater / Linux Zealot
    anonymous
  • Peter T.

    Every time MS releases a new version of Office, it seems to highlight "improved collaboration". I can only assume that there must be a need for it, yet I've never yet met anyone who actually uses those features. Do you know of anyone who uses these features?
    anonymous
  • We do!

    Office 2003 for example integrated into Sharepoint 2003 for the first time. This allowed the direct publishing of documents etc. These features were a bit clunky, but were revolutionary.
    In 2007, the integration with Sharepoint, Groove etc moved ahead in leaps and bounds, and made life soo much easier for people to use, share documents etc.
    So yes.. we certainly use them!
    Can't wait for Outlook / Exchange 2010 with the self managemnt of mail feeds etc.
    anonymous
  • Same here

    Online forms, search, workflow, collaboration & smart document storage - all used every day.
    anonymous
  • Bias Reporting again

    ZDnet once again showing their bias by conducting an unscientific straw people of unknown number of corps about a product that is only in a technical preview but yet claims that no one wants it.

    Pathetic please report on real news next time
    anonymous
  • Classic menu please!

    One of the problems with migrating from Office 2003 to Office 2007/2010 is the 'ribbon' menu structure that offers no classic view. This results in users needing to invest time to learn the new menu structure - time most users just don't have.
    anonymous
  • Ribbon

    "This results in users needing to invest time to learn the new menu structure - time most users just don't have."

    There's always time for staff training if the business case for change makes it worthwhile.

    Users not adapting to the Ribbon is more about resistance to change than time available to learn.

    The Ribbon has its faults esp. for power users but it makes many previously deeply nested advanced features of Office more transparent and accessible to average users and helps them make better use of the software.

    I haven't had any problems training people on the Ribbon where I work.
    anonymous
  • Its the SOE, stupid!

    It doesn't make sense for a corporation to upgrade Office on the *current* SOE (Standard Operating Environment).

    The current SOE - which is probably Windows XP - is approaching the end of life. Why go to the trouble of deploying Office 2010 on Windows XP? XP will be out of vendor support before the deployment starts! (XP was released in 2001).

    Most corporations will look at Windows 7 for the 'next' SOE. If Office 2010 is available at the time, that will make the cut. Otherwise, Office 2007 will be used. It sort of depends when Office 2010 is released, and when the next SOE is built. That also depends on how old the PC fleet is, and how much longer the company can live with what they current use.

    Now *that* would have been an interesting discussion for ZDnet. And it would have been interesting to read *why* Windows 7 and Office 2010 are not going to be released together, or even in the same year! What was Microsoft thinking?
    anonymous
  • YEsss

    Using the Windows 7 RC for the last few months and having installed the office 2010 technical preview you are right - these two products go hand in hand.
    On the same machine Vista and office 2007 are nowhere near as quick, and I am finding myself moving around the OS just a lot faster.
    anonymous