This week Microsoft officially launches Office 2010. While the final release version has been available for download by customers with software assurance for a few weeks, the “official” launch means the marketing machine will really crank up as Microsoft tries to create excitement for the 14th version of the world’s most popular productivity tools suite. Given there were more than 7 million downloads of the beta version, it’s evident there is interest in the latest version, and early user feedback has been positive.
But are businesses ready to upgrade to Office 2010? What about at home? A lot of firms recently went through an upgrade to Office 2007 – 80% of firms surveyed by Forrester last month say they support Office 2007. For many information workers the pain of adjusting to the Office 2007 Fluent UI is still fresh. And a lot has changed in the market since 2007 when Google was just launching Docs & Spreadsheets. So what do you need to know about Office 2010 to inform your upgrade decision? To start:
- The pain is gone. For those already familiar with the Office 2007, the upgrade to Office is painless compared to the 2007 transition. In fact, early users say the addition of the Fluent UI to Outlook felt right and that they could easily adapt without losing a step. A bevy of new features, such as the Outlook Social Connector or video and image editing within PowerPoint, will help drive unique ROIs with benefits coming from different improvements. Office has always been a tough business case to make because the productivity gains are hard to measure, but at least with Office 2010 there is strong evidence that a case can be made for the investment.
- Licenses make the upgrade decision a no-brainer. One-third of firms Forrester surveyed last month said they plan to upgrade to Office 2010 within the next year, primarily because it’s part of their license agreement. Two-thirds of firms plan to upgrade within the next two to three years, and those not planning to upgrade say it’s mostly because they just finished rolling out 2007. Only 3% say they are moving off of Office. For most it’s still not a decision of if, but when. And if you already have the license to upgrade, it’s hardly a decision at all.
- Office 2010 shares the wealth of SharePoint. Today 78% of firms Forrester surveyed say they support SharePoint, and half say they will upgrade to SharePoint 2010 in the next year. This strong uptake of SharePoint 2010 will help propel Office 2010, since the primary activities of information workers within SharePoint involve Office apps, like document workflow and collaboration.
- Welcome to the web, finally. With Office 2010 iWorkers at last have the ability to access, edit, and share their Office content anywhere with an Internet connection by saving files directly to Web Apps for business or SharePoint 2010. Google has been making a lot of noise these past few years with its Web-based Docs, but only 4% of enterprises Forrester surveyed are using Google Premier Apps. And just as Office goes online, Google Docs had removed it offline capabilities as it added more real-time co-editing capabilities. Microsoft gains here by offering more options for access to its apps, whether online or offline, web-based or desktop-bound.
All of this bodes well for Microsoft in the enterprise, even as Google seeks to use the Office 2010 launch to lure businesses over to Google Docs. Office will always be a safe choice for businesses, and one that remains popular with information workers who have little desire to have their tooling switched. On the consumer front, it will be much more interesting to see if Microsoft can retain its dominance. How about you? Will you upgrade at home, or just work? Or not at all? Either way, get ready for the blitz, because Office 2010 has arrived.