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A New Version of MS Office Every 90 Days

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the because-business-love-change dept.

Microsoft 292

Billly Gates writes "It appears Microsoft is following Chrome's agile development model like Mozilla did. At a recent tech conference, Kurt DelBene, president of the Office division, said they have mechanisms in place to update Office on a quarterly basis. Of course to get these new wondrous features and bugfixes you have to have a subscription to Office 365. Are the customers who most prefer subscriptions (corporate) going to want new things in the enterprise every 90 days? It is frustrating to see so many of them still on IE 7, XP, and Office 2003, which hurts Windows and Office sales and holds back innovation. At the same time, the accountants notice significant savings by keeping I.T. costs down with decade/semi decade updates to their images, while I.T. only puts out fires in between. Will this bring change to that way of doing things, or will Microsoft's cloud offerings with outsourced Exchange and Sharepoint make up for it using cost savings and continually updated software in the enterprise?"

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292 comments

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Chrome's agile development? (5, Insightful)

recoiledsnake (879048) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057225)

There was no agile development before Chrome or what? There's pretty much no comparison here.

Re:Chrome's agile development? (3, Interesting)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057259)

While the wording is inaccurate, I think they mean purposely confusing the trend Chrome popularized of what used to be a point release or Windows Update into fully numbered new versions to help make people sneer at "last year's version".

Re:Chrome's agile development? (1)

Trepidity (597) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057297)

It's a bit more than that: it also got rid of the idea of "stable versions" with their own updates, and just pushes new versions as updates. So for example, rather than Microsoft maintaining IE7, IE8, IE9 branches, the last update to IE7 would've just been the IE8 upgrade, and applied automatically.

Re:Chrome's agile development? (5, Funny)

Isaac Remuant (1891806) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057421)

For tech writers out there, everything was invented either by Apple or Google.

Re:Chrome's agile development? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43057481)

Certainly, anything worthwhile.

Re:Chrome's agile development? (2, Insightful)

Gonoff (88518) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057611)

For tech writers out there, everything was invented either by Apple or Google.

As a tech user, I know that nearly nothing technical was invented by Apple. (Off the top of my head, I can't think of anything but I would like to give them the benefit of the doubt,)

They have improved some things a lot but their top activity is marketing. They have no doubts 'invented' some business models but their most active practice is to sell above average devices at premium prices and some car manufacturers have been doing that for decades,

was invented by Apple? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43057699)

Trash! I mean Icon.

Great (1, Troll)

XPeter (1429763) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057249)

MS has finally realized that waterfall development isn't the best for consumers; now only if they'd offer it at an affordable price...

Re:Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43057369)

$100 p.a. for what is basically 5 Office Pro licenses, reassignable on demand + Office on demand on any suitable PC (read w7 / w8..) is a pretty affordable price. Especially so, compared to a single Office Pro 13, single machine non-subscription license that costs $$$, has no updates either (ho-hum, somebodys keen on subscritions) - is however permanent, assuming your PC is equally immortal.

All in all, $100 *is cheap* - till next year, at least..

Re:Great (4, Insightful)

rudy_wayne (414635) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057605)

All in all, $100 *is cheap* - till next year, at least..

That's the problem.

If my copy of Office 2003 had been sold as a subscription only for $100 a year, I would have paid $1000 so far. And along the way I would probably been forced to "upgrade" to the completely unusable newer versions.

Re:Great (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43057617)

It's (relatively) cheap for someone who needs 5 Office Pro licenses. but no one needs an Office Pro license... and certainly not 5 of them!

So for normal people, it means the price of Office went through the roof. Most people I know (who didn't pirate) still use Office Home 2007, which they bought at an average price of 100$ (I even bought one copy for my mother at 50$ during a boxing day sale). So the old Office price was less than 17$/year. And even at 17$/year, there are people who think it was too expensive and chose to pirate. And now you want them to pay 6 times more? And you call that cheap?

When the cost of a single software cost as much as the whole computer, it's not cheap. It's stupidly expensive.

Hello LibreOffice.

You can change the small things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43057251)

I work for a company where all our internal sales and crm software is internally developed. A user or customer requests a feature and our revs will implement it in a month or two

Milk the cow (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43057265)

Squeeze the magic hen for the last few golden eggs.

It's great (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43057279)

Seeing this shitty company implode right in front of our faces.

The following statemement is true (1)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057287)

Dear Slashdort readers, has anyone seen my phone? If you have, you are commanded to rely to this message and to refrain from unnecessaryt flatulence in the proximity of the telephone until my assistant recovers it from you. Remember, nobody is alowed to whistle loudly until I have given the all-clear or until I have brushed my teeth or until tomorrow. Dog!

Changing the "every other version sucks" model? (4, Interesting)

Narrowband (2602733) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057291)

I don't know quite what to make of this. I got used to skipping every other generation of Office, especially MS-Word, back sometime around the time of Word for Windows 2.0 (which was great) and Word for Windows 6.0 (the next version, which was not... who knows what happened to 3, 4, or 5.) But then later, Office/Word 2003 was the last good version, before they totally messed up the interface with their "ribbon bar" or whatever they called it, that made its functions impossible to find and use.

Rumor was that Microsoft had two competing teams, and while team A was releasing one version, team B was prepping the next version. Then when team B went to release their version, team A went back to development.

Given the later performance, though I don't know that it still holds. I just know that every time they make changes, I definitely want time to watch others' use of it and see what they are before I accept the upgrade.

Re:Changing the "every other version sucks" model? (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43057631)

before they totally messed up the interface with their "ribbon bar" or whatever they called it

Are people still crying about this? The rest of us spent a few days finding the stuff we use, which is not hard since now it's categorized, and went on with our lives.

Re:Changing the "every other version sucks" model? (4, Insightful)

Threni (635302) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057829)

> Are people still crying about this? The rest of us spent a few days finding the stuff
> we use, which is not hard since now it's categorized, and went on with our lives

No we didn't - we stayed with the version we were already using, and just missed out on the other new features like.. uh..you know, the new stuff that was really worth the effort and expense of upgrading.

Re:Changing the "every other version sucks" model? (2, Insightful)

Simply Curious (1002051) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057849)

Still disliking screen real estate being used by uselessly large, annoyingly nested menus that change on the fly? Yup. I can use either. That doesn't mean that both are equally well-designed.

Re:Changing the "every other version sucks" model? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43057869)

I found the stuff I use and even like some of the new features but the ribbon interface still sucks compared to 2003.

Re:Changing the "every other version sucks" model? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43057743)

As an SMB IT consultant I have to evaluate every version of Microsoft Office in order to provide proper advice regarding upgrades. I have to say from a purely personal viewpoint that the ribbon interface actually was an excellent idea. All related actions are grouped together for the first time in that interface. I can be resistant to change as easily as everyone else, but I honestly believe that my clients are well-served with the ribbon interface. The positive feedback I get from a range of clients with widely diverse levels of computer expertise suppors my belief that the ribbon has made a positive contribution to their everyday use of Office 2010.

Re:Changing the "every other version sucks" model? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43057833)

I honestly can't tell if your buzzword-speak is trying to indicate that this is supposed to be a witty troll post, or if you are PHB-type who believes the crap in your post.

Crying unto the children... (5, Interesting)

JJJJust (908929) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057307)

" It is frustrating to see so many of them still on IE 7, XP, and Office 2003, which hurts Windows and Office sales and holds back innovation."

Are we supposed to feel sorry that Microsoft can't hit their sales targets? Maybe if they stopped "innovating" their UIs and overall UE, they'd find more eager and rapid corporate adoption.

Every time they "innovate" an interface, there's internal documentation that has to be updated, new training modules have to be made, crosswalks need to be made, memo's (which inevitably nobody reads) have to be written saying: "Oh, you know that button Y that you used to be able to find here to do X? Well, now you have to do A, B, and C before you can click Y to do X. Sorry it'll now take you an extra 5 minutes to do your work."

All that costs money and time, and I definitely don't blame businesses for not wanting to upgrade...

Re:Crying unto the children... (1)

azadrozny (576352) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057545)

I am sure the UI is a factor, but another big obstacle to upgrade is the risk of breaking a tried and true enterprise infrastructure. Now there may not be many corporate applications that tie directly to a specific version of Office, but browsers and operating systems need to be upgraded with care to avoid problems with critical corporate systems. It is time to finally put XP and IE7 to rest, but I don't see any reason to rush an upgrade just because there has been a major release.

Re:Crying unto the children... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43057667)

" Now there may not be many corporate applications that tie directly to a specific version of Office"

lolololollolol0l0lololololollolololololol

Re:Crying unto the children... (1, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057547)

All that costs money and time, and I definitely don't blame businesses for not wanting to upgrade...

The only reason why Microsoft Office sells is because that's what people are used to. If you've ever attempted to retrain your workforce to use a new technology, you'll realize that those costs dwarf anything that can be saved in the short-term by switching to a lower per-unit cost solution.

That's the only thing keeping Microsoft Office alive, really: Retraining costs. If you could build a clone of Office that looked like it and had everything in the same place, and was cheaper, that would be the end of Office in a second. Which is precisely why copyright law was extended to software: User interface makes up a smaller percentage of code than the stuff that goes on behind it, often by a considerable margin. If you could just "Xerox" the interface, you'd side-step the re-training costs.

Companies would be forced to compete based on feature set, reliability, and cost, instead of looks.

Ah, copyright... protecting innovation. Yup. Mmm-hmm. Has nothing to do with "our customers would bail like a sinking ship on fire with shit raining from above" if not for these "look and feel" laws. See also: China. They don't have a problem with copying interfaces... and as a result, things there sell for pennies on the dollar to comparable products here.

Re:Crying unto the children... (2)

jbolden (176878) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057635)

I don't think that's true. Microsoft office offers a rather good feature set at a lowish cost. There are better solutions for much more money. There are slightly worse solutions for an individual that lack the integration features for $0. They might just be at the right compromise point.

Re:Crying unto the children... (-1, Flamebait)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057769)

I don't think that's true. Microsoft office offers a rather good feature set at a lowish cost. There are better solutions for much more money. There are slightly worse solutions for an individual that lack the integration features for $0. They might just be at the right compromise point.

Okay, Mr. Paid To Post This, please provide a list of features that (a) the average user is aware of and has used in the last 18 months and (b) is not available in any of the free Office clones out there.

I'm willing to bet I can count on one hand what you come up with, and it won't be worth the $635 per seat cost that most businesses pay.

Re:Crying unto the children... (0)

Billly Gates (198444) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057857)

I don't think that's true. Microsoft office offers a rather good feature set at a lowish cost. There are better solutions for much more money. There are slightly worse solutions for an individual that lack the integration features for $0. They might just be at the right compromise point.

Okay, Mr. Paid To Post This, please provide a list of features that (a) the average user is aware of and has used in the last 18 months and (b) is not available in any of the free Office clones out there.

I'm willing to bet I can count on one hand what you come up with, and it won't be worth the $635 per seat cost that most businesses pay.

1. Integration with cloud services (If they do not use the ancient verison of 2003)
2. Ribbon access (users now prefer this as it is what they are familiar with and you can find everything)
3. Integration with SQL and business intelligence reports in Excel
4. Formatting works across tthe business world unless of course they use 2003 which occasionally exhibit formatting issues
5. PDF editing that actually works
6. Calandar functions
7. Built in Todo list
8. Lync IM integration with the phone system
9. Group policy support
10. Macro support
11. Extra finance and statistics functions in Excel
12. Worldclass database with a consumer gui front end - You can switch to SQL Server and even postgres with ODBC if you outgrow the initial default database

I know Jbolden and he is no shill and is non biased. All of these features are well worth the money for a business per seat to pay. LibreOffice still has quite a bit of work cut out for it to come even close. While postgresql and mysql beat Access the gui component where a novice can quickly create something and move it to a real datbase quickly is nice. All larger companies use all 12 things to keep things running smoothly.

Re:Crying unto the children... (2, Informative)

jedidiah (1196) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057907)

> 3. Integration with SQL and business intelligence reports in Excel

You just lost the "average user" at that point.

Although you probably lost them already at #1 or or #2.

#4 is just a lie. #9 is esoteric even for companies. #10 is just a big security nuissance.

Re:Crying unto the children... (1)

jbolden (176878) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057621)

Are we supposed to feel sorry that Microsoft can't hit their sales targets? Maybe if they stopped "innovating" their UIs and overall UE, they'd find more eager and rapid corporate adoption.

OK lets test that. We just had a release of Windows 8 which was a major UI shift. During the period of the shift there was a huge opportunity for people to stock up on Windows 7 which kept the Aero interface. There was no spike in sales.

All that costs money and time, and I definitely don't blame businesses for not wanting to upgrade...

Now that's a different issue and far closer to the truth. Businesses trying to spend as little as possible. Microsoft obviously has to make sure they fail in that objective.

Re:Crying unto the children... (1)

ocratato (2501012) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057835)

There has been no spike in sales because PC sales are in decline overall.

However I purchased this W7 machine to avoid any W8 problems putting Linux on it.

Re:Crying unto the children... (1)

jbolden (176878) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057947)

I understand you may have done that. But if there was a great desire for stability we would have seen a large spike when it became clear it was a "now or never" situation. There wouldn't have been a decline. The decline means that people were unconcerned enough not to change buying patterns.

Horse Shit (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43057623)

Nothing says flounder like a rapid development schedule for a mature product.

Who says there's anything left for Microsoft to do? What if the Office Suite is so near perfect that is impossible to innovate?

And why should anyone in their right (or left) mind accept the argument that customers who don't see sufficient value in upgrading are responsible for holding the Gods of Programming from there annointed purpose of innovation?

This smells like shear desparation driving Microsoft to tactics designed to keep their effort relevant to the news cycle, not a strategy that will spur the development of any kind of thoughtful or meaningful new functionality one might consider innovative. Otherwise we'd be hearing about the improvements and their value to customers.

This is pathetic, both as snooze story and as a business strategy.

Re:Horse Shit (1)

luke923 (778953) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057719)

Who says there's anything left for Microsoft to do? What if the Office Suite is so near perfect that is impossible to innovate?

I'm sure they can find ways to improve Clippy or something tertiary in importance.

And why should anyone in their right (or left) mind accept the argument that customers who don't see sufficient value in upgrading are responsible for holding the Gods of Programming from there annointed purpose of innovation?

Because they're "DEVELOPERS! DEVELOPERS! DEVELOPERS!."

Re:Crying unto the children... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43057873)

With a change in their development model new changes could be introduced quicker which means there is less things for people to get used to from version to version. I work as a software developer in a rather large company that works with governments around the world, higher ed, hospitals etc. and we move our product like this. We have a patch update every month and are now focusing on a new version every 8 months. Since we are changing less there is less issues with upgrades so our customers can get features they want soon rather than waiting 2-3 years for something that would be nice now.

Also, as a developer it's amazing to work in that kind of an atmosphere. You don't end up with a giant mountain to chip away at but instead teams get to pick and choose what you are working on based on a priority list. You can then run a stability "sprint" or two at the end of the development sprints and make sure everything works exactly as it should. It feels great as a worker and it's definitely good for our business so I can fully understand why MS would want to move to this as it simply makes sense all around.

Re:Crying unto the children... (4, Insightful)

DaveAtFraud (460127) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057949)

" It is frustrating to see so many of them still on IE 7, XP, and Office 2003, which hurts Windows and Office sales and holds back Microsoft profits."

See if that makes more sense...

Cheers,
Dave

It'll depend on breakage (5, Insightful)

Todd Knarr (15451) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057323)

If Microsoft can provide corporations a written guarantee that the updates won't break any of the custom programming those corporations use in their applications and documents, it'll fly. The reason corporate IT doesn't update often is they have all these business-critical things lurking, macros used in spreadsheets, document templates, custom internal applications, that must work, and they need to check that updates don't break those things before they can roll the updates out.

You aren't going to be able to sell business on something, even if the price is lower, if it isn't going to give them anything they aren't already getting and it'll increase the costs associated with the business being down while IT fixes what the latest update broke.

Re:It'll depend on breakage (0)

Enderandrew (866215) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057379)

If corporations are using complex macros and any real "programming" inside of an Office document, then they're doing it wrong.

If they are using non-connected proprietary apps that will crash just because Microsoft Office is also running at the same time, they're doing it wrong.

Re:It'll depend on breakage (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43057447)

That sounds great but in the real world there are ugly cludges and people doing things they shouldn't. Don't just blow it off as " you do it wrong, tough".

Re:It'll depend on breakage (0)

Deekin_Scalesinger (755062) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057721)

Damn stupid dropdowns - unmodding this as flamebait.

Re:It'll depend on breakage (1)

Deekin_Scalesinger (755062) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057749)

I agree with the AC - kludges are part of the tech world sadly. Who among us hasn't hammered a proverbial round peg into a proverbial square hole once in a while to deliver a project on time, make a customer happy, etc. I can't imagine anyone who takes pride in their work likes using kludges, but sometimes they gotta be done...

Re:It'll depend on breakage (5, Insightful)

Rockoon (1252108) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057989)

It isn't just kludges...

That guy writing excel macros isn't a professional programmer. He's a professional bean counter or mid-level manager. Somewhere along the way he picked up some simple VBA skills that were needed to get the job done.

Thats it. Thats all there really is to it. Converting the code to C/C++/Python/whatever isnt going to help, because he simply does not know those languages and neither will the guy that replaces him.

Re:It'll depend on breakage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43057483)

Corporations are are using complex macros and doing "programming" inside of an Office documents, and they are doing it wrong

Re:It'll depend on breakage (3, Insightful)

luke923 (778953) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057775)

They're not doing it wrong -- they're doing it because they can! If MSFT didn't want to worry about an end user (who might happen to be a Fortune 500 client buying an unlimited site license) writing an Excel macro or a program in VBA, these features should have never been included with Office in the first place. So, MSFT will have to support these features or provide compelling enough reasons for their customer base (via more compelling reasons) to migrate to a new version and move their real "programming" outside of Office.

BTW, if you want to know why alot of corporate clients have codebase inside of Office applications, read my sig.

Re:It'll depend on breakage (1)

rudy_wayne (414635) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057423)

You aren't going to be able to sell business on something, even if the price is lower, if it isn't going to give them anything they aren't already getting

Which is exactly why most businesses aren't running Linux and Open Office on all their desktops. It's also why there are still millions of people using Windows XP and Office 2003. Contrary to Microsoft's PR department, newer versions of Windows and Office don't give users any benefits that even come close to outweighing the enormous cost of changing.

Re:It'll depend on breakage (0)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057983)

Actually, Office 2003 and XP are still around because A) The multitudes of Dell P4 machines that no one will let die, and B) You can still pirate these without an activation server

You bloody fucking idiots! (4, Insightful)

onyxruby (118189) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057325)

Just because someone else is doing something and they have a popular product does not mean that everything they do is a good idea. Rapid release cycles are a prime example of this as they are extremely antagonistic to enterprise / corporate environments. These environments like something called stability and they are far more interested in a predictable and bug free experience that the latest shiny new thing.

In addition to issues of stability there are also issues of management, when you have a rapid release cycle it is a strain on your IT department as they have to devote a /lot/ more time proportionally to a given product than they otherwise would. Time means money and that means costs and a desire to switch to something that doesn't require constant babysitting.

Time spent by staff learning what changed in /this/ cycle versus the previous one from a few months ago is time that could have been spent on other things. Employees constantly need hand holding on the latest changes and that requires a lot of time. Nobody likes that and it means that the staff that support the product start to resent the product and want it gone.

Attention whore products are ones that irritate everyone and that is a /really/ bad thing if you want your product to stay in that environment. This is an epically stupid idea and one that needs to be relegated the dustbin of history sooner than later.

Re:You bloody fucking idiots! (2)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057363)

Rapid release cycles are a prime example of this as they are extremely antagonistic to enterprise / corporate environments. These environments like something called stability and they are far more interested in a predictable and bug free experience that the latest shiny new thing.

Yes but... where do you put the meter? I know of entire government departments still using IE6, often stability is preferrred over everything else, even if it is the stability of the devil you know rather than actually being stable.

Re:You bloody fucking idiots! (2)

onyxruby (118189) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057549)

Most environments I have worked consider best practice one release cycle or service pack behind the current production release cycle. In other words with Win 8 out you run Win 7 and the previous version of Office and so on. This is done explicitly to allow time for bugs to be worked out and to allow products to mature and stabilize.

In your case of IE 6 the most likely culprit is that they have large amounts of software that are hard coded to depend on IE 6. The cost of upgrading the in-house software to a more current version can well run into the millions of dollars and that is enough to keep large agencies from upgrading. Microsoft etc are trying to force companies and enterprises to upgrade anyways as the push back is incredible. The behind the scenes push back and on this issue is far larger than you probably would ever imagine.

To put an idea on scale of the IE 6 issue, consider it on par with many agencies that still have code running on cobol on mainframes. It's years out of date, nobody trains new programmers on how to work with anymore but the cost of upgrading is enough that no one wants to actually get of the known old bad system on to the new.

As you put it, the devil you know.

Re:You bloody fucking idiots! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43057673)

You put the meter at where compatibility with the majority of the world breaks, keyword being majority... I use browsers, office and graphics software that are several years out of date, but I can still view most websites and most documents that people send me and they work well enough and I'm already used to all their quirks, so I don't see a reason to upgrade. I'll upgrade only when half the websites stop rendering properly or I can't open half the documents I receive.

I too have a friend who works in government (maybe same department?) and is forced to use IE6. He told me the websites I create don't render properly on it and my response: "tough luck!" And maybe that's why they're still on IE6, so people don't goof off all day surfing the web.

Counter example: Google apps doesn't work on any of the browsers I have, so I installed Chrome on a junk machine just long enough to move my accounts out of there.

Re:You bloody fucking idiots! (1)

helobugz (2849599) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057561)

Maybe this is a sign M$ office will FINALLY stabilize? Perhaps you need to have some faith? (/me ducks)

Re:You bloody fucking idiots! (1)

jbolden (176878) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057677)

There are two types of customers that use Office:

a) Those that use a little Office lightly.
b) Those that use Office along with the full suite of server solutions: Lync, Dynamics, SharePoint

b's aren't moving and a's aren't that profitable. If 80% of the a's leave and 20% become b's that's a very good trade. Microsoft is finally dropping the bottom of the user barrel, the low margin customers so they can move their ecosystem more quickly.

Re:You bloody fucking idiots! (3, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057945)

Are you kidding. It's the A users that are the ones that can actually tolerate this absurdly fast release cycle. They can tolerate it because they don't really do anything. So there is far less chance that any reversion will bugger them.

The B users are going to be f*cked up by this nonsense because they are trying to use everything and have all sorts of inter-dependencies. Reversions caused by too many versions too quickly will CLOBBER these "bread and butter" end users.

Profitable "Enterprise" users are the ones that like to cling to old versions because the cost of an outtage is too high.

Yup. That's exactly what companies want. (3, Informative)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057339)

Last place I worked upgraded from Office 2003 in 2011. And that was mostly because some of our clients were making snarky comments about our ancient software. The absolute last thing a corporation wants is software that is constantly changing. Every minor change throws the oldsters (generally anyone 5 years younger than me and up) into a tizzy because the rote memorization they used to "learn" the old version doesn't work any more.

Re:Yup. That's exactly what companies want. (2)

Goetterdaemmerung (140496) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057399)

There is nothing wrong with Office 2003. It's a utility. There are few features in the newer versions that make doing your job faster, more accurate, or cheaper.

Re:Yup. That's exactly what companies want. (2)

Billly Gates (198444) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057557)

There is nothing wrong with Office 2003. It's a utility. There are few features in the newer versions that make doing your job faster, more accurate, or cheaper.

Not where I am contracting as it is a big headache!

One of the VPs read something about the cloud and Office 365 and decided to layoff the Exchange support team and outsource it to Microsoft with outlook.com. Problem is about 500+ users in 4 continents still used Outlook 2003 when the switch went thru.

No email or calandar functions for these users! They need a browser and about 200 called the India help desk at the same time for instructions. +5 hour wait time.

FYI outlook 2003 does not support mapi. Very bad things happened and I am working overtime trying to fix it with angry hostile users with +120 tickets a week as it is with only 2 other guys trying to manage the minimalist insourced I.T.

Staying behind may look cheap and reasonable but tickets and support are skyrocketing and management is all sooo clueless on why is support costs and tickets going up! This software worked fine for 10 years! The social media integration, clouds, and soon HTML 5 versions of SAP, Kronos, Google Docs, Salesforce.com are going to hit those stuck on IE 7 next.

So it is a hassle so lets plug our ears and whine I CANT HEAR YOU. Shit will hit the fine later but in a surge like at this company that decided to go cheap with the accounting department running through 3 different outsources to do I.T. Office 2003 is surely not a utility when we went to the cloud.

Re:Yup. That's exactly what companies want. (3, Insightful)

rudy_wayne (414635) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057629)

There is nothing wrong with Office 2003. It's a utility. There are few features in the newer versions that make doing your job faster, more accurate, or cheaper.

Not where I am contracting as it is a big headache!

One of the VPs read something about the cloud and Office 365 and decided to layoff the Exchange support team and outsource it to Microsoft with outlook.com. Problem is about 500+ users in 4 continents still used Outlook 2003 when the switch went thru.

No email or calandar functions for these users! They need a browser and about 200 called the India help desk at the same time for instructions. +5 hour wait time.

FYI outlook 2003 does not support mapi. Very bad things happened and I am working overtime trying to fix it with angry hostile users with +120 tickets a week as it is with only 2 other guys trying to manage the minimalist insourced I.T.

Staying behind may look cheap and reasonable but tickets and support are skyrocketing and management is all sooo clueless on why is support costs and tickets going up! This software worked fine for 10 years! The social media integration, clouds, and soon HTML 5 versions of SAP, Kronos, Google Docs, Salesforce.com are going to hit those stuck on IE 7 next.

So it is a hassle so lets plug our ears and whine I CANT HEAR YOU. Shit will hit the fine later but in a surge like at this company that decided to go cheap with the accounting department running through 3 different outsources to do I.T. Office 2003 is surely not a utility when we went to the cloud.

Sadly, you have completely missed the point. Switching to Office 365 and "the cloud" got you nothing but trouble. And it's not the fault of your "outdated" Office 2003. Once again, someone who is in a position of power, and who doesn't belong there due to their total clulessness, made a gigantic bonehead decision.

Re:Yup. That's exactly what companies want. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43057661)

The cloud can work great but when you have no I.T. and several outsources who do not communicate with each other do the work shit will happen.

Office 2003 is not cloud ready which was my point. Boneheaded decision for that too as it was not planned. In my opinion in the end upgrading every couple of years and being proactive rather than only put out fires while things raise in costs as it crumbles is cheaper. Office 365 and the cloud works but you can't do new and innovating things on 11 year old platforms.

It is an ugly mess but I get paid. My salary is certainly a cost they could have avoided too. If the cloud offers more cost savings then it is a reason to upgrade. Not say it is boneheaded to keep wasting money on an exchange team.

Re:Yup. That's exactly what companies want. (1)

jbolden (176878) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057709)

Bill if they bought Office 365 for the enterprise (E3 / E4) that includes Outlook licenses.

Re:Yup. That's exactly what companies want. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43057809)

The folks in Mumbai gave us strict orders not to install it unless they are out of warranty. ... until I had to come in an fix it :-)

If it aint broke dont fix attitude can cause all sorts of unplanned things like this.

Re:Yup. That's exactly what companies want. (1)

jbolden (176878) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057685)

Methinks you should look at the server side like: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics/default.aspx [microsoft.com]

There is a lot that 2003 doesn't do that the modern versions do. 2003 is more or less on par with LibreOffice.

Guess I'm not their target customer (0)

sk999 (846068) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057351)

When necessary, I use OpenOffice - and it's version 1, from 10 years ago. Newer versions changed things up so much I gave up trying to figure them out. Just give me the same fonts, the same menus, the same tabs to click on. In the end it's the content, not the way you type it in, that counts.

Re:Guess I'm not their target customer (1)

helobugz (2849599) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057401)

I thought I was the only one. OO.org rocked 10+ years ago, then went to crap for the longest time. THEN it forked!

Postponing costs (3, Insightful)

bickerdyke (670000) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057353)

The problem with the described model (keeping the same software version for years) is that if at some point you're forced to change, that change will be HUGE. Files become unreadable, and anything that's beyond pushing the mouse will require retraining.

The changes in monthly updates (probably for all software used at a desk) will fit in a medium sized email.

So by sticking to old software, often you're not saving costs, but rather postpone costs. (Assumed there is an automated rollout tool and you don't have to upgrade a few hundered PCs by sneakernet every time a new browser patch comes out)

By the way: the lack of centralized software/update management is one of my windows pet peeves. Even the smalles file compare tool tends to clutter your system with a specialized update agent that tends to pop up in the middle of your WOW raids or whatever else causes maximum grieve for you.

Re:Postponing costs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43057767)

Umm, it's a fucking word processor. Nothing needs to change that much, especially every 90 days.

Why blame accountants? (4, Insightful)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057361)

The summary implies it is accountants that keep IT from upgrading, but last time I checked, accounts don't control IT's budget, IT does. There is only so much money available, if IT decides to use it for development or new hardware instead of upgrading Office or Windows, why blame the accountants? Why blame anybody?

Office used to be called a productivity suite. Since Office 2003, have the end user productivity gains associated with new versions offset the cost to upgrade and retrain? Probably not. Maybe, IT, like the accountants are looking at ROI and finding that there is much more bang for the buck elsewhere in the system than in Office.

Just a thought.

Re:Why blame accountants? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43057597)

The summary implies it is accountants that keep IT from upgrading, but last time I checked, accounts don't control IT's budget, IT does. There is only so much money available, if IT decides to use it for development or new hardware instead of upgrading Office or Windows, why blame the accountants? Why blame anybody?

Office used to be called a productivity suite. Since Office 2003, have the end user productivity gains associated with new versions offset the cost to upgrade and retrain? Probably not. Maybe, IT, like the accountants are looking at ROI and finding that there is much more bang for the buck elsewhere in the system than in Office.

Just a thought.

I wrote that because my one client (I wont mention the name here and will post anonymous) did just that. They outsourced to the cloud trying to save even more money. Problem is Outlook 2003 is so old is not cloud ready as it does not properly support MAPI. Since no I.T. department exists there was no accountability. 3 outsourcers control I.T. so who do you blame?

+500 have had no email for a full month! They use a web browser but then there messages they can't and paste fromt he desktop as Outlook 2003 messages wont work because outlook will crash when you try to open it now. I have been working over time trying to fix it. Some can't upgrade as their XP boxes are 8 years old and too corrupted to run the scripts to repair and require a manual reimage one at a time for each one. Can't do it in mass as there is no standard image (remember that I.T. was a cost center so no one did this etc.)

What was the ROI on this? There was certainly one for me, but not for the client.

Re:Why blame accountants? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43057957)

I am a management accountant. Hardly anyone ever asks our opinion ahead of large spending projects. To quote one of my professors: the difference between accounting and finance is the accountant can tell you what happened and the finance manager will tell you what she thinks will happen. We see the company's financials on a daily basis and are well aware that ROI requires the I. IT doesn't even have to answer to us when they blow their budget. They have to answer to the people we report to: the company's managers & owners.

Re:Why blame accountants? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43057923)

Accountants/finance departments most certainly do control Office upgrades. They control it by holding the purse strings when the software purchase is considered and they control it again when IT comes to them to ask for money to perform the upgrade. This usually occurs during the yearly budgeting process but it may come up during the fiscal year as an off-budget project. I used to work for Microsoft and for 7 of the years I was there I was focused on selling Office in the corporate/enterprise space and helping those same customers upgrade to the latest version. I worked through hundreds of Office upgrades (three different Office versions and anywhere from 75 to 125 customers per version) and never once did I see a situation where IT was given x dollars to spend on anything they want. The major projects always went through approval and the accountants in finance always had a very important say in whether the projects where taken on or not. I learned early on too always figure out what was great in a new version of Excel and then spend time showing the accountants how the new version of Excel would make their jobs easier. If I had the accountants on board then the chances of getting the Office upgrade approved increased dramatically.

There may be the oddball company out there where the bean counters don't control the budget for large projects but if such companies exist they are by far more the exception than the rule.

Planned obsolescence (4, Insightful)

jonfr (888673) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057439)

This is planned obsolescence. As such it is a bad model as they always are. But this is no surprise at all.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planned_obsolescence [wikipedia.org]

Re:Planned obsolescence (1)

jbolden (176878) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057729)

No it isn't planned obsolescence. Microsoft needs to start moving changes through their ecosystem much faster.

Holding back innovation? Hum? (2)

morcego (260031) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057451)

which hurts Windows and Office sales and holds back innovation

Somehow I fail to see the relation between windows/office sales and holding back innovation.

Quite the opposite. Maybe they should innovate, getting better products, so people will buy those.

A New Version of MS Office Every 90 Days (5, Funny)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057463)

About time! In the rapidly advancing field of spreadsheets and word processing, it's good to know that at least one company is keeping pace with the speed of new ideas by updating their 25+ year old, feature-complete, developmentally mature suite of products every 90 days.

Yeah.

Re:A New Version of MS Office Every 90 Days (1)

jbolden (176878) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057877)

They aren't remotely feature complete. For example with spreadsheets compare: http://www.quantrix.com/ [quantrix.com] to Excel. That being said, you are kidding but the last decade has been a decade of rapid advance. Look at the tie ins with Dynamics that exist today, that sort of integrated BI/ERP was very rough around the edges even 5 years ago.

Every 90 days ... (0)

Alain Williams (2972) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057475)

A new tweak to file formats, you will need to have a subscription to be able to have it formatted as the guy who sent it to you wanted. I don't think that Open/Libre Office is the main aim for M$ here, but they are going to be forever playing catchup.

Wow: a great treadmill, corporate IT support will have kittens over this.

Microsoft articles every day - front fuckin page (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43057511)

are you guys getting paid for this?

did you get paid off to dump the borg logo, too?

Microsoft related post(s) EVERY FUCKING DAY!

I haven't needed new features since the 90s (1, Offtopic)

Grayhand (2610049) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057515)

That's why I switched to Open Office. I need basic formatting and spell checking, similar for the spread sheets. Microsoft is desperate to stay relevant but 90% of their users have been happy for years so they are running out of reasons to upgrade.

MS are idiots (5, Insightful)

bored (40072) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057529)

Don't they know IBM is still selling mainframes? Wanna know why? Its not because they are these mythic beasts capable of running your IT needs at 100x the performance (they can't) or because they are an inexpensive solution. IBM continues to sell mainframes because its less expensive for big enterprises to rewrite software they have literally spent tens/hundreds of millions of dollars on since the 1960s. They don't have to rewrite that software because a modern mainframe can pretty much still run the same code, and users trained in the 60's,70's, etc, don't need retraining.

For some reason MS has failed to understand that every time they update their UI, or break some portion of their applications, they upset their core user base which is now business. All the cool trendy people have moved to Apple, the hardcore geeks to linux, the gamers are on ps/xboxes/etc, and the agnostic grandmas are being converted to apple/android devices.

The only remaining user base is the captive one. If MS continues to make it hard to upgrade, either in the form of retraining, or breaking application compatibility (requiring everyone to upgrade their entire software stack), they will soon be written into the dustbin of failed computer companies.

Re:MS are idiots (1)

jbolden (176878) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057905)

Look at Microsoft's sales figures. They aren't selling legacy they are selling new features, things they didn't do 10 years ago. Microsoft is making a fortune taking data warehouse business from IBM and Oracle, 10 years ago SQL Server wasn't a player. Microsoft is moving their Office people up to Dynamics, Lync, SharePoint... 10 years ago Microsoft didn't even have an ERP.

And for the last year Microsoft has made it clear they are moving their interface out of the 1990s.

Put your data in our cloud! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43057539)

Put your data in our cloud! We've accounted for everything, short of leap year mathematics.

I'm still using Office 2003 (3)

bfwebster (90513) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057569)

Given that Offfice has (IMHO) been getting worse for several years now, the idea of quarterly updates are less than appealing. ..bruce..

Accountants Always Win (2)

some old guy (674482) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057575)

No business in its collective right mind makes a major capex, on IT or anything else, until the idea is fully analyzed for ROI and risk..

Selling an idea or project to upper management is easy. Getting anything new past the bean-keepers is hard.

Microsoft et al fail when they cannot make a real-numbers business case for upgrade adoption, and Bob's your uncle.

Re:Accountants Always Win (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43057831)

As the member of a legal team, accountants can be our best friends and we can be theirs. I don't know how many times I've gone to them because we've said something was, if not flat out illegal, a terrible idea, and then they provide cover by saying it is too expensive. In return, they sometimes come to us and we use stronger language about something being a bad idea when the top doesn't believe them that it is too expensive.

Giving it away (1)

fizzer06 (1500649) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057589)

Army to Gates: Halt the free software [cnet.com]
I think MS was trying to insinuate their incompatible file formats (2003 vs 98) into the army and therby "force" them to adopt the newer version of Office.
The first sample is free, then you gotta pay. So saith the drug dealer.

Honestly, it's an office suite. (5, Insightful)

holophrastic (221104) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057649)

Look, office suites are way better than my first essay-writer -- wordstar in ~1986 -- which itself was wonderful. And modern office suites are better than my favourite essay-writer -- wordperfect 5 something I think -- with keyboard function key overlay and alt menu drop downs.

But is there really a difference between office in 2013, and office in 2002? It's been ten years of crazy awesome features that just don't matter.

Sure I use spreadsheets every day. But not for anything that I didn't do in lotus 123. And sure I use write/word every day. Again, not for anything more than I did with wordperfect.

I really couldn't care less any more. I'm not using them to fly to the moon.

Re:Honestly, it's an office suite. (2)

RDW (41497) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057961)

But is there really a difference between office in 2013, and office in 2002? It's been ten years of crazy awesome features that just don't matter.

I can now use more rows in Excel, but that's about the only change I've liked since Office 2000. Lots of irritating interface changes since then, but the fundamental annoyances are never addressed - Excel's auto conversion of any text that looks vaguely like a date into date format, silently corrupting the data unless you go out of your way to format the column as text only, is my absolute favourite:

http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2105/5/80 [biomedcentral.com]

Fraustrating? (1)

Gonoff (88518) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057697)

It is frustrating to see so many of them still on IE 7, XP, and Office 2003,

Not half as fraustrating as it the people doing it.. And why is this still happening?

1. Microsoft spent a lot of time pushing tools that made such poor code that it will not work on modern browsers.

2. For years they relied that there was "no alternative" to what they had persuaded professional suit wearers was the only option.

3. Not every version of Windows is worth upgrading to.

And so on. I am sure people here can think of lots of other reasons they have not upgraded to Office 2007 or Vista and are still actually in nice stable dead end of XP and Office 2003. "If it works, don't fix it."

What needs to be changed? (1)

CanadianMacFan (1900244) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057711)

Other than changing the interface and file formats (which don't need to be changed) what needs to be released on a quarterly schedule? It's office software. The majority of people type up memos, simple (as compared to what the software allows) documents, and PowerPoint presentations. Does Excel really need another mathematical function that only a person with a PhD in some obscure branch of mathematics has heard of? The cynic in me says that they will keep changing the file format in order to keep forcing people to upgrade and the subscription service is just to smooth out revenues instead of having very large sales every couple of years.

Re:What needs to be changed? (3, Insightful)

PCM2 (4486) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057847)

Does Excel really need another mathematical function that only a person with a PhD in some obscure branch of mathematics has heard of?

Seems like what they mostly add to Excel are new visualizations, i.e. new ways to display data, rather than to calculate it. They're also adding things like new PowerPoint visual effects, tools to make it easier to edit graphics from right within PowerPoint and Word, etc. None of it is essential, but it's easy to see how someone who uses the product a lot could think they're pretty cool additions. I suspect these are the kinds of things Microsoft will be pushing with their Office updates, more so than anything really significant.

The cynic in me says that they will keep changing the file format in order to keep forcing people to upgrade and the subscription service is just to smooth out revenues instead of having very large sales every couple of years.

I have no reason to suspect the file formats will change in any way that breaks backward compatibility. But I'd say you're right on the money with the rest of your sentiment, no cynicism required. Note that the infrastructure for these supposed 90-day updates (Microsoft hasn't said it will actually do them every 90 days) is only included in the Office 365 version of the suite. It has a different installation method and its own software update feature. Microsoft has already said that it will be releasing Office 365-only software updates using this mechanism. What it's doing now is trying to plant the idea in customers' minds that if they don't get onto the subscription model they will be "missing out" -- or worse, that they won't get bug fixes and security updates as fast as subscription customers. The latter is probably not actually true, but you won't catch Microsoft's sales staff denying it.

Microsoft (1)

Vincent Bucchieri (2854723) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057715)

Microsoft is and continues to be a top notch company. I know the team is truly dedicated to providing the best product out there.

Re:Microsoft (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43057921)

imo you sound like the chick in The Truman Show where she's advertising a product but talking to Truman like it's just something she recommends personally to him and him alone to consume.

Fuck shills.

Yay! (1)

amightywind (691887) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057723)

Even more rapid gratuitous changes!

Standard format (1)

manu0601 (2221348) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057739)

It could be a good move if MS used a stable standard file format, but since they always slightly breake backward compatibility, the more upgrade we get, the more mess we have.

Re:Standard format (1)

PCM2 (4486) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057887)

It could be a good move if MS used a stable standard file format, but since they always slightly breake backward compatibility, the more upgrade we get, the more mess we have.

Oh really? So far as I know, nothing has broken backward compatibility for the Office document formats since Office 2007.

Sure, they have introduced new features into newer versions of Office. Older versions of Office that didn't include those features won't recognize them. But that doesn't prevent the documents from opening in the earlier version -- you just get an error message. But if you create a document in Office 2013 that only uses features that were present in Office 2007, it will open just fine in Office 2007 (again, so far as I know; maybe you know otherwise).

In my mind, that means the Office document formats have been pretty much "stable" for at least five years -- which might not sound like a long time, but in the computer industry it actually sort of is. There are certainly worse offenders.

WHY? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43057795)

What exactly needs to change every 90 fucking days for a fucking office suite? When Microshit was changing their office suite by the year there were enough issues with backwards compatibility as it was. Every 90 days? What, so they can foist new stupid "interface innovations" their cowboy programmers come up with over the water cooler at an even faster rate?

And yes, I know what Agile micromanagement is. I suffer through it daily. I still fail to see how it would work for the worlds largest monolithic monster of an office suite. Sometimes less change is more.

Ridiculous... (1)

RLU486983 (1792220) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057801)

LibreOffice is free and what more can they really add to office to warrant people shelling out for it every 3 months... Corporations going bankrupt and they wonder why?!?

Vendor lock-in (4, Interesting)

abelb (1365345) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057861)

Microsoft wants everyone on the planet to pay it every month for the right to use a computer. Who wouldn't, really? Microsoft has proven it cannot be trusted maintaining interoperability with formal or other standards or even previous versions of their own software. Why would you trust that every update to Office 365 will be in your best interest when Microsoft has proven time and again that they'll make major changes just to shift the goal posts on competitors trying to interoperate with them? If a large majority of people get on board with this it will put Microsoft in an incredible position of power to keep them locked in and competitors locked out.

Goddammit, the whole tech world is going to hell (2)

FuzzNugget (2840687) | about a year and a half ago | (#43057867)

Every company is getting way too fucking greedy, forcing upgrading when it's *really* not necessary (who needs anything since Office 2000?), general computing is going the way of the dodo in favor of Apple-esque walled gardens, every laptop has turned into a glorified VCR with shit-for-keyboards, every awesome technological development is shut down for bullshit legal reasons because paper pushing middleman jackass wouldn't get his cut for doing something useless and obviated by technology...

Remember when tech companies used to do things because they were genuinely useful?

Fuck this whole damn planet, we can't get to Mars soon enough and establish a technocracy ruled by logic, science and reason.

Yeah, OK, that rant was a little off topic, so I'll balance it out by signing off with, fuck you Microsoft with your bullshit greed-based business models.

People Still use MS Office? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43057885)

Libreoffice seems to be more stable that the current MS one.

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