Forrester: Upgrade pitfalls to avoid when moving to Office 2010

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.

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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 has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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23 comments
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  • Expenses vs benefits

    So, an entire report that talks about costs.
    Are there any benefits to "upgrading"? I would suggest not for 99% of Office users.
    davebarnes
    • Agreed.

      @davebarnes

      Most office workers should go back to typewriters and pen-and-drafting paper. But then again, most businesses can't afford that either. The problem's not the software, not even the workers. It's the business that neglects to keep up with the times for 7+ years (some are even upgrading from office 2000 by my experience), and that neglects to include training time/budget for their employees. All the functions that were in the older versions are still in the new one. Plus some. The hurdle is in where it's all located. However... I would *highly* recommend that you view the 5-minute explanation of the ribbon interface on Lynda.com (it's a free one). You'll get a much better understanding of the technology behind it then. I've been on the ribbon for a couple of years now - I dread when I have to go back and "hunt-and-peck" around on the old software now.

      Wasn't OpenOffice supposed to be working on their version of the ribbon too?
      rock06r
      • RE: Forrester: Upgrade pitfalls to avoid when moving to Office 2010

        @rock06r Nobody had to "hunt-and-peck" in 2003 and earlier. People who knew what they were doing customized their toolbars. I can get stuff done in XP about 20 times faster than in 2007 simply because the functions I need are on my toolbars instead of Microsoft's idea of what a secretary (oops, I mean administrative assistant) needs. I'm pretty sure that one of Microsoft's propaganda (oops, I mean talking) points about Office 2010 was that you could once again customize all toolbars everywhere, not just the Quick Access toolbar.
        Vesicant
      • RE: Forrester: Upgrade pitfalls to avoid when moving to Office 2010

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    • RE: Forrester: Upgrade pitfalls to avoid when moving to Office 2010

      @davebarnes The benefit would be stability and extendibility. You know how easy for Outlook 2003 to corrupt the .ost file? With office 2007/2010 it can be scan and fix into background so you can use Outlook right away without doing the long scan. Also Office 2007 and 2010 works better with SharePoint. As for cost, shops that already on Software Assurance/Volume Licensing cost nothing to upgrading to 2010. It's the training and deployment cost and it's not like you have many alternatives. It's still cost you pretty much the same if not more to switch to OpenOffice or Google Docs with all the training and deployment.
      Samic
      • Outlook 2010 is not really that stable

        @Samic Given that the #1 complain from users (besides the fact that is slow as molasses compared to 2k3) is that Outlook keeps corrupting their offline folders. Also, the new Outlook is WORST for roaming profiles than the previous version.
        wackoae
      • wackoae, I would be interested to read that

        as I did a search and couldn't find anything on that with Office 2010, though I did see a few article on it being slow, (from Nov 2009), so maybe they took care of that second issue?
        John Zern
    • RE: Forrester: Upgrade pitfalls to avoid when moving to Office 2010

      @davebarnes If you evaluate Office 2010 on "What will break?", it is a barely manageable upgrade from 2003. If you rate it on "What do I gain?", it's nearly pointless unless you start have documents that are just not readable or need XML support. If your thinking of using it in your company and everything works right now...don't.
      Socratesfoot
    • Benefits? Not Measurable

      @davebarnes 99.9% of docs, spreadsheets, Powerpoint..etc.. work in the 2010 compatibility mode. We have been moving to it since June, and I haven't found a document yet that wasn't flawless in Word 2010.

      The advantage? Excel 2003 had a row limit just over 65000 rows... Excel 2010... no such limit. Awesome... In a lot of businesses, a couple hundred thousand rows of data is a normal thing. Now excel can use those in a pivot table without having to dump into Access. Huge upgrade.

      Outlook 2003 is awesome, Outlook 2010 buries it. No comparison. From screencapture tools built in, to flawless embedding of word and excel docs... to one note integrated with it all... amazing.

      Productivity is lifted in every area. It is faster to use, easier to use(the ribbon is great and everyone loves it after about a week...even power users)...and more powerful.
      condelirios
  • Whatever happened to that OpenOffice fork we heard about?

    nt
    otaddy
    • It is called LibreOffice

      @otaddy I know .... stupid name.

      http://www.documentfoundation.org/download/

      So far it is just a partial rebranding of the original OOo. I don't think they have done anything more than changing a few icons.
      wackoae
    • RE: Forrester: Upgrade pitfalls to avoid when moving to Office 2010

      @otaddy Open Office is still around, LibreOffice is a variant started outside of the iron hand of Oracle who for a while seemed content to let it die.
      Socratesfoot
  • What about Office Web Apps as an Alternative

    Did Forrester forget that Microsoft offers a free Office suite called Web Apps? Its basic, but for those users with basic needs, it works just fine. Another important point as @Samic noted, most Enterprises are under volume license contracts spread out over a few years, so upgrading is included in the cost of the subscription. In regards to 64 bit Office, don't upgrade to it unless you really need it, I only see a few apps in the suite that can take advantage of it, these include Excel and PowerPoint.
    Mr. Dee
  • RE: Forrester: Upgrade pitfalls to avoid when moving to Office 2010

    Or avoid it altogether.
    james347
  • RE: Forrester: Upgrade pitfalls to avoid when moving to Office 2010

    Still don't see a benefit to moving from Office 2003. I tried 2007 for a year, and hated the ribbon. Given all the costs of upgrading, I don't see a reason to until it's really, really necessary. (or the product is better)
    Evil(er) Overlord
  • RE: Forrester: Upgrade pitfalls to avoid when moving to Office 2010

    People who have been on Office 2007/10 for awhile can forget that figuring out the ribbon is a learning curve. I had been using Office 2003. When I started my current job in a Office 2007 environment for the first few days my boss was convinced I was computer illiterate and had fabricated my resume.
    edkollin
  • Ribbons aren't worth the (indirect) retraining cost.

    I've been on the ribbon for a year now, and while I'm comfortable using it, I still prefer Office 2003. Some of the 3D chart options and formatting is better in 2007/2010, but those are just eye candy. 98% of the core functionality is the same.

    The only new toy I definitely enjoy: Sparklines. I'm a business intelligence developer, and have created manual sparklines for a decade now (using Excel and other more "enterprise" reporting tools), and it's cool to see it as a native function in Excel now.
    dwoodeson
  • Microsoft did a pretty good job on 2010

    But I still don't understand why they have to charge $350-450 for Professional...If you consider a netbook is same price it just doesn't make sense...price should be $225 and $200 for corporations...
    amasys
    • $500 was the cost for individual programs years ago

      Some software has got cheaper!
      Patanjali
  • 64-bit Office not recommended

    Figure 1 mentions the 64-bit version of Office. It should be noted that Microsoft do not recommend using the 64-bit version, even on 64-bit operating systems, unless you're one of the very few people who need to manipulate extremely large documents.
    harry@...