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Microsoft: Old Versions Are Rubbish

Friday, 24 November 2006 microsoft office technology

Microsoft, in an interview with the BBC, have said in no uncertain terms that it’s aim is convince people that older (than latest) versions of their software are redundant. Chris Capossela, corporate vice president of the Microsoft Business Division, said:

One of the biggest challenges… is to fight that perception that old versions of software are good enough,

[…]

Our business model of course allows you to keep using Office 2003 - the software doesn’t really expire,

Am I the only person that finds this sort of practice a little worrying? This is not the only example of Microsoft doing this sort of cripple-ware. Windows XP did bring several improvements to the desktop but with it Microsoft have limited some of their client software to only run on it (MSN Messenger v7+ for example).

DirectX 10 (the next-generation performance hardware abstraction layer for programmers to utilise hardware to it’s limits and provide the best gaming experiences) has also been crippled so that it will only run on Windows Vista (the next version of Windows). After that, any game that required DX10 to run also requires Vista.

He went on to say [talking about retraining for Office 2007]:

The people who take longer are the die-hard users; the expert Excel user

Another sign that Microsoft have screwed up Office 2007. They admit that it’s going to take the longest to learn for people that know the older versions best. Considering the interface for office has been nigh-on identical for the last 10 versions, a lot of people are going to find themselves going “where is feature x now?” I know that’s what I’m experiencing with Office 2007. Moreover the people with the expensive certifications in programming Office are going to find themselves needing to enter into another long bout of (expensive) retraining.

Companies, especially smaller ones are definitely going to need to look hard at the pros and cons of ‘upgrading either operating system or office’ vs ‘moving to an open platform’ as there are several potentially expensive problems staying with a pure MS solution.