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Gray Knowlton's blog on Microsoft Office

Bits on Boxes

Bits on Boxes

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One could presumably begin every sentence with the phrase "in this economy…" It seems like more than any other thing, a budget crunch forces us to ask some tough questions about the work we're doing, check to see if we're going to get the results we thought we were, or if we did 50% less we'd get 80% of the result we'd hoped for.

A question that I am frequently pressed to answer is whether or not an organization should choose to deploy Office 2007 today or to wait for the eventual release of Office 14. It's a fair question, although I think that in most cases it is more frequently asked to test whether or not an organization will save money by standing pat or by moving forward. I think what people are really asking with the Office 14 question is "do I save more money if I deploy now or if I do nothing?" – a fair question, and one that I'd like to take a minute to answer here.

"Deploy now" is the answer. Getting users to Office 2007 will result in benefits that directly relate to cost reduction. There are a lot of ways to describe why, but for a minute let me discuss IT-related benefits specifically.

Off the top of my head, here are a few very good reasons why 2007 will save you money from day 1:

  • Security updates. 73% of all security vulnerabilities reported for Office do not apply to 2007, due to the significant investment in app-level and document security in the products. This means that you are updating the desktop less frequently than before, and your users are operating in a much more secure environment.

  • Saving on storage and bandwidth. A lot of folks correctly attribute this savings to the fact that DOCX, .DOCM, .XLSX, .XLSM, .XLSB are dramatically smaller than .DOC and .XLS. This is a very real data point… resulting in as much as a 50% reduction in document size and bandwidth consumption. But when you fold Groove into the mix, where workspaces only synchronize the bits of a document that have been changed, we multiply the effect significantly. Layer in the ability to take SharePoint libraries offline with Outlook, and complete control of the file save location dialog box, and you have the makings of a solution where you are deferring the storage of smaller documents to shared locations. Organizations can take this as far as they choose; they can manage this as much as is necessary; there are virtually no limits for managing the software.

  • Trust Center. There are a lot of features in 2007 to guide users down a good decision-making path. None may be more important, however, than the new Trust Center. Illustrating the benefit is best done by comparison to Office 2003. In 2003 if you open a document that contains a Macro, users are forced to decide whether or not to enable that Macro before they see the document contents. In security language, they are forced to make "the trust decision" before they understand whether or not they need to use the macro. In 2007, the Trust Center and other functionality changes this behavior. In 2007 users can open a document before electing whether or not to execute a Macro. They can "make the trust decision" with a lot more data. There is an obvious benefit of user safety that comes into play. But from a support standpoint, a measurable support burden reduction can be observed in the elimination of phone calls to the help desk that begin with "Office won't let me open this file because it says it has a Macro."

  • App-Virtualization. Increasingly organizations are turning to Application Virtualization as a solution for desktop application management – and for good reason. Customers today are seeing significant benefits for managing Office in a virtualized state. Isolating the app from the OS has an enormous impact on application compatibility.

  • Outlook auto-account configuration. Imagine if all your users needed to do was type their own email address and password to configure Outlook. Now imagine if your Mobile device would do that too… between Exchange and Outlook and Outlook Mobile, IT can enable Outlook to configure itself when new users are connected to the system or machines are migrated.

As instant feedback, all of these things translate into reduced management cost for IT. I haven't really begun to discuss the concept of productivity gain and how much more efficient users are with 2007 than prior releases; the idea that users are now experiencing 12 times more functionality in PowerPoint 2007 than they did in 2003. Or the value that consolidating business applications through the Office user interface is bringing. Products like Duet deliver a great shortcut to ROI on line of business applications.

As IT organizations look for ways to contribute to their organization's value, and to help reduce operational costs, make people more efficient, etc., they need look no further than the software that is right in front of them. People all over the world are realizing benefit with 2007. Now is the time to take advantage of its advances.

Comments
  • Gray Knowlton, Office Group Product Manager, just posted a nice blog entry Bits on Boxes about the cost

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