Who's Afraid of the Office 2010 Upgrade? Most Businesses

What does corporate IT think of Office 2010?

While there's enthusiasm for the new version of Office, according to a survey of 950 IT professionals conducted by Dimensional Research, there's no rush to roll it out: Enterprise IT views Office 2010 as a complex and daunting upgrade.

Eighty-five percent of survey respondents plan to upgrade to Office 2010 eventually, but only 18 percent have plans to deploy broadly in 2010. As of now, only 4 percent have Office 2010 fully deployed in their environments, and 52 percent have not deployed it in any way. The rest are deploying Office 2010 on test machines or on new machines only.

A majority of survey respondents (78 percent) cited concerns keeping them from doing a migration this year, with the top concerns being the new ribbon interface, compatibility with current applications and licensing.

"At this time it seems that migration concerns are outweighing confidence of a speedy Office 2010 migration, said Diane Hagglund, senior research analyst for Dimensional Research.

The Ribbon user interface, where a set of toolbars are arranged on tabs across the top of an Office document, was introduced in Office 2007 and enhanced in Office 2010. Still, Office 2003 users remain intimidated by it. According to the survey, 45 percent of respondents are worried about training employees on the new Ribbon interface. Incompatibility with add-in applications was also listed as worrisome by 33 percent of survey respondents. Incompatibility with Office 2003 formats was listed as worrisome by the same amount of respondents, 33 percent.

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Another concern is Microsoft's new model for volume licensing for Office 2010 called Volume Activation. More than half of respondents (56 percent) report they have concerns about this new approach, which require a system admin to set up a license server and requires all clients to activate Office 2010. The added administrative overhead that this model requires for system admins was cited as the most worrisome issue (41 percent).

"This arrangement is clearly more challenging than the traditional approach of just having a volume licensed version that you can put anywhere you want without any required 'activation,'" says Lubos Parobek, senior product manager at Dell KACE.

Also hampering the adoption of Office 2010, according to the survey, is the unwillingness to bypass Office 2007. When respondents were asked if they would upgrade from Office 2003 to Office 2007 as an interim step or go straight to Office 2010, only 37 percent said they would be skipping Office 2007.

Another trend worth noting: Office 2010 is not a big driver of hardware refreshes. A majority of respondents (72 percent) who plan to upgrade to Office 2010 at some point are not upgrading hardware at all. Of the 28 percent who plan to do a hardware refresh along with Office 2010, 17 percent say the hardware is the result of upgrading to Windows 7 at the same time as Office 2010, not as a result of higher Office 2010 requirements.

The use of free Office alternatives should also keep Microsoft on its toes. While nearly all respondents (98 percent) report using Microsoft Office, 23 percent report using one or more free business productivity suites. OpenOffice is the most frequently used at 18 percent, followed by Google Docs at 10 percent.

The research for the survey was conducted in September 2010 by Dimensional Research and commissioned by Dell KACE. Participants include hands-on IT professionals (45 percent), IT managers (28 percent), IT executives (25 percent), and represent a range of company size and industry verticals.

Shane O'Neill covers Microsoft, Windows, Operating Systems, Productivity Apps and Online Services for CIO.com. Follow Shane on Twitter @smoneill. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline. Email Shane at soneill@cxo.com.

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