My name is Alistair Speirs and I'm a Senior Product Manager in the Office team. My personal philosophy is that there are two powerful prerequisites to help people do their best work - A. a ready supply of espresso coffee and B. a well-managed desktop with a modern Office suite. Organizational productivity suffers when either A or B are lacking (at least in my case). While beverages remain the realm of facilities management, ensuring users have a modern and secure Office suite is a core competency of ours, as IT Professionals. Here are two common questions I hear from IT Pros:

Q: I want to deploy Office 2010 in my organization... where do I start?

A: Seek first to understand your environment!

Make sure you have a good understanding of your environment - hardware, application and file compatibility. Office 2010 was built to work with the hardware you already own, but under the hood changes have made Office 2010 run significantly faster. As one example, check out the recalculation speed from one of our test spreadsheets - a Monte Carlo simulation with over a million rows of data:

 And it would not be fair to talk about performance without mentioning the Office application that probably runs longer than your staff spend awake, Outlook. Office 2010 shows dramatic improvements to startup, synchronization and shutdown speeds:

 

Outlook 2010 RTM

Outlook 2007 SP2

% Improvement

Boot (cold)

7.6 s

10.3 s

26%

Boot (warm)

0.53 s

0.77 s

31%

Synchronize Complete Mailbox: 1GB

12.7 min

18.6 min

32%

Synchronize Complete Mailbox: 2GB

26.8 min

28.3 min

5%

Responsiveness Workflow (number of pauses)

27

41

34%

Shutdown

0.64 s

1.17 s

45%

 The Office 2010 system requirements are largely unchanged from Office 2007,  so any computer purchased in the last 4 years should run Office 2010 without issue (even Atom powered netbooks and slates). On the software side it is important to get a sense of what other desktop apps rely on Office. Many CRM systems plug into Outlook, analytics tools into Excel and records management systems into Word. Perhaps most challenging is getting an idea of your document inventory. Where are they stored? Who owns them? Do they contain macros? Understanding your document inventory allows you to make better decisions around whether to convert to the new XML file formats, identify which users are the macro-making troublemakers, and choose which settings to configure, such as default saves formats and locations.

The good news is that there are tools to help understand your environment. The Office Environment Assessment Tool (OEAT) scans client computers for add-ins and applications that interact with Office 97 through 2010. The Office Migration Planning Manager (OMPM) helps you scan files for conversion issues, create reports and even convert documents to the new Open XML file formats.  Here the feedback has been don't try to scan every file in your company. Instead, scan a subset or scan only files modified in the last 12 months. The Office Code Compatibility Inspector (OCCI) scans your VBA macro or VSTO code for known compatibility issues, such as object model changes or 64 bit compatibility issues.  

Q: I'm deploying Windows 7 64-bit, so should I deploy Office 2010 64-bit?

A: Use Windows 7 64-bit with Office 2010 32-bit.

Even though the system requirements are in line with Office 2007, Office 2010 takes advantage of fancy new hardware with advanced graphics cards, multi-core processors and alternative form factor devices. Most of these things are automatic improvements, but whether to deploy 64-bit or 32-bit Office is a choice IT Pros need to decide up front. Our strong recommendation is to deploy 32-bit Office. While 64-bit is useful if a spreadsheet instance is using more than 2GB of memory, this is not a common scenario. The downside of 64-bit is that all VBA macros will need to be updated (unless your developers had the foresight to declare pointer safe variables... No, I didn't think so either) and non VSTO add-ins need to be rewritten. This is a lot of work for very little benefit. Office 2010 32-bit benefits from running on a 64-bit operating system though, as the larger maximum memory allow you to run more applications.

So there you have it - you can make your life easier by understanding your Office environment using the tools we provide, deploying Office 2010 32-bit with Windows 7 64-bit and drinking espresso coffee. More detail on these topics (sans coffee) and other Office IT Pro considerations are available on our Office Technet site, www.officeitpro.com or our Windows Phone 7 app. Happy Deploying!