Office 2007 winning converts, survey says

Adoption of SharePoint 2007, which Office 2007 integrates with, is pushing adoption of the productivity suite

Microsoft's Office 2007 is seeing strong adoption by corporate users that will only pick up steam over the next 12 months, according to a Forrester Research survey released Tuesday.

The driver for adoption is not necessarily the popular suite of productivity applications but the allure of integration of the Office client software with back-end Office servers, namely SharePoint. In fact, adoption of SharePoint is helping foster Office 2007 upgrades, according to Forrester.

Office's changing role has Microsoft positioning it as a front-end client for such tasks as document management, collaboration and unified communications.

With the Office 2007 suite, users can set up content management, integrate with online services, deploy real-time communication tools and other infrastructures using any of the eight Office servers. That means Office is no longer a desktop decision made by the desktop team. It is also an infrastructure decision that ultimately involves IT.

"For large organizations, they are driven to move forward [with Office] given the improved support on the server side," says Kyle McNabb, the analyst who spearheaded the survey with nearly 300 IT professionals in North America and Europe. The independent study was conducted by Forrester online without any outside sponsorship or funding, according to the company.

"Those large organizations want the full experience with Word, Outlook, Excel and PowerPoint in particular," McNabb says.

He adds that a subset of users also was driven to Office 2007 just by the desire to keep up with new versions or with licensing commitments.

"We don't have definitive data, but I would guess the majority, say 60-40, are driven by SharePoint rather than keeping current," McNabb says. And he adds that 92 per cent of respondents named the combination of Office clients and back-end server options as being in line with their long-term strategies.

The survey, entitled "The State of Microsoft Office 2007 Desktop Adoption", showed that 43 per cent of respondents have Office 2007 in use in their enterprise. Those results do not reflect a wholesale upgrade to Office 2007, however, because users were allowed to list all the Office versions they are running. Office XP topped the list with 60 per cent, while Office 2003 came in at 46 per cent. Office 2000 still showed 20 per cent and Office 97 had 7 per cent.

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