Earlier this month, I ran an article, “Don’t upgrade MS Office unless necessary, Gartner analyst recommends,” that outlines my opinion, and that of Gartner Analyst Chris LeTocq, that organizations do not need to automatically upgrade their Microsoft Office suite with each consecutive release. To support this argument, we debunked several Office 2000 rumors, offered upgrade cost comparisons, and recommended several alternative upgrade strategies. In response to this declaration, TechRepublic members responded in force, and I’d like to share their comments. Unfortunately, due to the volume of feedback, it’s not possible to publish every response. However, I believe I have presented the best balance of all the submissions.
In Response offers a weekly roundup of feedback from TechRepublic members intended to help inform you and your peers about critical issues in the world of IT. This week, TechRepublic members share their opinions on the best strategy for an MS Office upgrade.
TechRepublic members respond
Gene Gutt: The link from strategy to implementation
”Commendations to Bill Detwiler not only for an informative article, but also for the approach. This is the first time assumptions and considerations have been made as part of a planning and comparison process. It makes much [more] sense to develop a strategy than to just list a strategy and leave everyone groping with the link from strategy to implementation. Thank you, Mr. Detwiler.”

Cyndeec: Sometimes you have to go forward
“As an IT trainer, nothing is more exasperating than to be teaching an Office 97 class to a group who have benefited greatly by moving forward to Office 2000. While I agree that no company should upgrade because it is newer and better, after the software has been out for at least 6 months, the company should be able to determine whether they would have benefited from an upgrade. Back level support and training can be more costly than plunging into an upgrade.”

Ekegren: Job well done
”When one is in a situation where upgrading is not only necessary but desired, it is nice to find an article where one can find unsolicited support. Nice job.

Hliebman: I bet he still has his first suit
”I would not go back to Office 97 if someone offered to pay me twice what it cost. Most people use more than one component of Office. Maybe the author only uses Excel. I use all of it, including FrontPage. Moreover, I have used every version of Office since version 4.3, and I find that Office 2000 offers the greatest stability of all of the versions introduced to date. The author probably still uses a Pentium 90 machine and still wears the first suit he ever bought, as well. It is attitudes like his that result in end users being left with less than satisfactory productivity software environments. The purpose of these environments: the better the software, the more empowered the user.”

Srs: First suit cheaper than a new suit
“Your comments about his attitudes and the stabs about the suit and P-90 indicate you need a dose of reality. I support nearly 300 PCs, most of which have < 300 MHz processors and 64 MB or less of RAM. Maybe your company sees the need to spend money for equipment and software, but we aren’t all that lucky on budget day. Office 97 gets the job done on the hardware we have without breaking the bank.”

Woolburr: The age of reason
”Bill Detwiler has said a mouthful here. Too many times people are tempted to jump at the ’if it is new, it must be better‘ theory. System-wide upgrades and retraining can be far more costly than one might suspect. Targeting your needs should play a major role in any upgrade scenario; face it, if a user is only going to use Word and Outlook, it is very hard to justify the additional expense of the Pro version. Certainly the time will arrive when it does become necessary for you to upgrade, but until that time, reap the benefits of your current investment.”
Does your organization upgrade its Office suite with each consecutive release? Why or why not? E-mail me your story or post a comment and let us know.