Office 2010: The Pros and Cons for Businesses

Office 2010, set to launch in June, has handy new features for businesses and is more Web-friendly, but will come with a potentially clunky merging of new technologies and upgrade headaches. Is it worth it? A Forrester research report weighs the good and the bad.

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Thu, January 14, 2010

CIO

With Office 2010 set to launch in June, businesses of all sizes are considering if it is worth the money and hassle to upgrade, especially for small and midsize companies that never moved from Office 2003 to Office 2007.

A report from research firm Forrester entitled "A Glimpse at the Best and Worst of Office 2010" lays out the improvements of Office 2010 such as the integration of Office apps on the Web and addition of social networking tools to Outlook, but wonders if Microsoft (MSFT) can deliver on these features.

Outlook Social Connector
In Office 2010, Outlook Social Connector adds social views of co-workers and friends to your
Outlook inbox. (Credit: microsoft.com)

These Web-based features are brand new, and thus likely to be glitchy, according to the Forrester report. The report also noted that some companies that were interviewed plan to license Office 2010 for some of their workforce but still use free alternatives like Google (GOOG) Docs and Zoho as a complement.

"Even those companies planning to adopt early doubt that Microsoft will make the new online experience completely painless," writes report author Sheri McLeish.

Nevertheless, the Forrester report says that Office 2010 is "boundary breaking" just by finally putting the most well-known Office tools online.

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Based on interviews with dozens of IT professionals about their companies' plans for Office 2010, Forrester outlines what businesses will enjoy about Office 2010 as well as the potential headaches the upgrade could bring.

The Pros

It Breaks Down Old Boundaries

Forrester lists three features in Office 2010 that make it "boundary breaking": The use of SharePoint Workspace (formerly known as Groove) to share and edit SharePoint content both online and offline; easing enterprise security fears by making Office Web Apps available privately as part of a company's license agreement; and integrating social media tools from sites such as LinkedIn in Outlook through Outlook Social Connector.

These new integration features — if they work smoothly — give Microsoft an upper hand over more established online productivity suites like Google Apps and Zoho, according to the Forrester report.

Simplified Suite Options for Enterprises

There are seven total editions of Office 2010, but for volume licensing customers (mostly enterpruse-size companies), Microsoft has reduced that amount to two: Standard and Professional Plus. This is half as many as Office 2007 (Ultimate and Enterprise editions have been eliminated).

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