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Aussie firms weigh up Office 2010

Chief information officers from organisations and government agencies are already considering roll-outs of Microsoft's Office 2010, but some, such as Jetstar and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), aren't convinced that an immediate move is warranted.
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Written by Ben Grubb and  Josh Taylor on

Chief information officers from organisations and government agencies are already considering roll-outs of Microsoft's Office 2010, but some, such as Jetstar and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), aren't convinced that an immediate move is warranted.

At the Sydney launch of Office 2010 yesterday, CIOs from several Australian businesses detailed positive experiences they'd already had with the new Microsoft suite, but others are biding their time with the implementation.

Jetstar CIO Stephen Tame revealed that while the vast majority of the airline's staff were using Office 2003, the budget carrier had trialled a number of free alternatives to Office.

"We did commence a pilot program of moving the 95 per cent of staff that do not need the full Microsoft Office function to OpenOffice 3; however, this stalled during the move of Sun to Oracle as the future position of the open-source platform in its free forms was unknown," he said. "We are currently running a pilot program for Google Docs, [but it's] unlikely to replace [Office] completely; however, the collaboration capability is very impressive."

He said the company was "unlikely to be an early adopter" of Office 2010 as "the benefits lists do not justify the move costs yet".

ATO chief technology officer Todd Heather said his department would likely upgrade to Office 2010 from Office 2003 in the future, but was adopting a "wait and see" approach until then.

"We will upgrade from Office 2003 and Windows XP probably within the next 18 months and will be evaluating Office 2010 as a likely candidate," he said. "We will watch the experience of early adopters carefully and will look for means to ease people's transition as there are significant differences for people to adapt to."

Customs and Border Protection, on the other hand, were reviewing the suite for an update later this year, according to a statement from the department.

"The software is being considered for implementation in the 2010/2011 financial year. We are in the early stages of review and cannot make any further comments at this stage."

The Department of Defence's chief information office group was definite about migration. A statement from the department said that it would be moving to Office 2010 from Office 2003 as part of the Next Generation Desktop strategy. Though the statement also said that Defence "regularly assesses" alternatives to Office and could trial these in the future.

"Defence is not currently running other products; however, Defence is looking to pilot open-source products as part of our Strategic Reform Program."

Curtin University CIO Peter Nikoletatos said the university expected to roll-out a complete Microsoft upgrade, including upgrading to Office 2010, later this year.

"Curtin is currently developing a Managed Operating Environment — code-named Desktop 2010, which is based on Windows 7, Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010. We are testing the environment to ensure compliance against with our corporate applications."

That these organisations have been seriously considering rolling out the suite goes against sentiment from last year, when firms polled by ZDNet Australia said they were reluctant to adopt Office 2010. Suncorp CIO Jeff Smith said he had no plans to move to the new version, as did University of Western Sydney IT director Mick Houlahan and TransGrid's chief information officer Henry Tan. Caltex CIO Nigel Clark indicated that the oil company was unlikely to move until 2011. The organisations were contacted again for this article, but had yet to respond to requests for follow up at the time of writing.

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