A friend of mine returned from vacation last week to find that her work PC had been upgraded from Office 2003 to Office 2007. Perhaps I should say that the IT department had attempted to upgrade it, because things weren't working right. All it took was a day of wasted time for her to get things limping along again.The first thing I asked her was, "Why did your company upgrade from Office 2003 anyway?" I knew they were using mostly Word and not even scratching the surface of the Word 2003 features. Like many companies, it wasn't that they wanted to upgrade, but they were forced into it. The company was receiving documents from their customers that they couldn't read. Office 2003 has a converter that can read Office 2007 (.docx) documents, but it's far from perfect. They didn't want to annoy their customers by asking for a new copy saved in good old Office 2003 .doc format.
This was a typical small-business upgrade. The IT guy pretty much walked around to the two dozen PCs that needed to be upgraded and installed Office 2007. When you're one guy dealing with a small number of upgrades like that, there's no fancy pre-deployment test process. What that means is there are inevitably some issues that crop up on each user's PC where things don't quite work right. In my friend's case, her Outlook mail wasn't configured correctly.
Of course, there's no training either. If you've made the switch from Office 2003 to 2007, you know that it takes a while to get used to the new user interface. Now imagine returning from vacation facing the typical week-old backlog of work, then having to learn a new application at the same time. It sure would have been nice if Microsoft had worked a bit harder on making document exchange better between the two versions, so companies didn't need to waste time on an upgrade they don't really want. Then again, Microsoft wouldn't have sold two dozen Office 2007 licenses if that was the case.