Users running Office 95 software will not be able to upgrade their computers to Microsoft's next generation of office applications, Office XP.
The forthcoming range of office software tools, set to launch in the UK at the end of May, will cost around twice as much to buy from scratch as to upgrade. The estimated retail upgrade price will be $239, and the full version will cost $479. Microsoft says that no upgrade will be available for users of 95.
"Those are just too old and we have come a long way," said a company spokeswoman in the UK. "We are recommending that users jump straight to XP."
Analysts say the policy will irk some users and dent the budget of companies that are still using older versions of Microsoft's Office software.
Dan Kusnetzky, vice president for system software research with analyst firm IDC, said that a considerable number of companies still rely on Office 95.
"A lot of organizations are still running 95 because that is what they wanted at the time," he said. "A lot of business people operate with the attitude that if it is good enough, then it's good enough." Microsoft Office is the World's most popular suite of Office tools, and Microsoft's cash cow, accounting for 46 percent of the company's revenue. Between five and ten percent of Office users are still on Office 95.
Boris Suchantke, manager of com.eins Computer, a German company that buys up software from liquidation procedures and resells upgraded versions, is unhappy about Microsoft's policy not to allow upgrades from older versions of the software. "I'm very surprised," he said. "They have been allowing it for years and have decided to stop overnight."
There have, however, been three upgrades since Office 95, and Kusnetzky believes it is not surprising that Microsoft now wants to stop providing upgrades for this version. He said users will inevitably, from time to time, be faced with the need to buy software from scratch.
"It would seem plausible that they would decide they weren't going to make an upgrade, [and] say that they can't supply the engineering. I'm not sure that other vendors would do differently."