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Forrester warns of possible Office 2010 upgrade hassles

Forrester Research released a new study this week that warned of some potential upgrade hassles for business users looking at Office 2010, due out by June of this year.

Forrester Research released a new study this week that warned of some potential upgrade hassles for business users looking at Office 2010, due out by June of this year.

The January 7 study, entitled, "A Glimpse At The Best And Worst Of Office 2010" is based on feedback from "dozens" of information worker and knowledge management professionals. Forrester's study acknowledged there will be many "incremental" improvements to Office, but also potential challenges.

In a section on potential Office 2010 "speed bumps," Forrester analysts mention the following:

  • Differences between 32- and 64-bit versions of Office. "There are clear benefits to running the 64-bit version of Office 2010 — like much larger Excel workbooks — but it’s not without drawbacks," Forrester said. One example: ActiveX controls and add-in (COM) dynamic link libraries (DLLs) that were written for 32-bit Office will not work in a 64-bit process, Forrester said.
  • The "makeover" of the VBA language and Office Object Model. VBA will support 64-bit with Office 2010 and the Object Model has been updated with the forthcoming release of Office -- something which affects Outlook users. "Customers who wish to do bulk conversions or migrate content with macros and other customization may need to spend more effort for remediation," Forrester analysts said.
  • Integrations may be "clunky." From the study: "Because Microsoft needed to reengineer Groove to work as SharePoint Workspace and features like Outlook Social Connector are brand new, the initial experience using these features likely won’t be seamless."

Forrester noted that Microsoft has work to do to convince customers why Office still merits premium price points, given the raft of free competitive offerings out there. (Earlier this week, Microsoft unveiled retail prices for Office 2010, which included a brand-new $99 SKU for students, but higher prices for those looking for upgrades. Microsoft hasn't shared volume-licensing price guidance for Office 2010, but it is offering small business users who are willing to sign up for annuity licensing plans a discount for upgrading.)

Forrester noted that some customers are looking at mixing and matching Office with free offerings. From the report:

"Several firms Forrester spoke with indicate they will continue to license Office but plan to move segments of their workforce to alternatives or provision online apps from Google or Zoho as a complement. Volume licensing pricing will matter if firms can demonstrate that cost per user for broad deployments can be competitive with cloud-based alternatives whose enterprise pricing is still under development."

Office 2010 testers: What's on your potential list of hurdles, price- or feature-wise, if you're contemplating moving to the latest Office release?

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