There has been a lot of trade press coverage today on the unveiling of the new look for Office 12 at Microsoft’s Professional Developer’s Conference. The best information I’ve seen is this blog on PC World by Harry McCracken. Office 12 is due out in the second half of 2006.
Those of us involved in church IT will need to start considering how the availability of Office 12 will affect next year’s budget and technology planning.
To me, the biggest issue is the total cost of upgrading. This total cost is more than just the cost of the license fees and any necessary consulting to achieve a network-wide upgrade, but will also include the training costs. Given that the user interface will be completely new, there will be significant training costs as well as the intangible cost of loss of productivity while users learn the new interface.
On the other hand, the arguments in favor of upgrading are obvious. This will be the first major improvement in Office in more than eight years. It seems probable that most or all of the innovations we see in this new version will ultimately be embraced by users and become the “new normal”. If I’m right on this, it isn’t really a question of whether, but only a question of when. The only thing that could change this would be a universal rejection of the new user interface. In that case, will we all move to Open Office? Who knows?
Will those of us who are decision-makers in church IT be early adopters, or will we wait to embrace this new version? At Resurrection we’re still running Office 2000. We had tentative plans to move to Office 2003 this year, but that plan didn’t survive the budgeting process. I can’t imagine that we will adopt Office 12 next year since there’s no way we can properly plan for it a year in advance of its release. Since we’re still on Office 2000, however, we don’t have the luxury of waiting indefinitely. With all of this in mind, I’d predict that 2007 will be the year for us.