Microsoft made a good move by not linking Office 2007 with Windows Vista, according to analyst group Forrester Research, considering the slow uptake of the operating system among enterprises.
"It was a smart decision to decouple the two," said Kyle McNabb, a principal analyst with Forrester, contrasting the relative success of the two product lines. "The Office team in particular did well to make sure that Office wasn't coupled with Vista, but was with SharePoint. That SharePoint 'drag' has been very positive for Microsoft."
Office 2007 adoption surveys conducted with about 250 IT decision makers in North America, the UK, France and Germany show 93 percent of enterprises will deploy part or all of the suite within the next 12 months, McNabb said. More than four in every 10 companies polled already have Office 2007 in the hands of workers.
"By and large, they're looking at broad sectors of the workforce, not everyone," said McNabb, talking about how companies said they have rolled out Office 2007, or soon would. Employees categorised as "information workers" are the most likely to be the target of upgrades. "At FedEx, for example, 15 percent to 20 percent will get Office 2007."
While the surveys said 75 percent of the enterprises polled were planning such broad deployments, most of those companies said they were going to tie Office to new hardware rather than upgrade in place.
That's made Office 2007's success somewhat a matter of good timing on Microsoft's part, or maybe just luck. "Office 2007 is hitting right around the time when these information workers have had a desktop or notebook for four years," McNabb said.
Yet the replacement cycle hitting corporations hasn't had the same impact on Windows Vista uptake. Before the two products were released simultaneously in late 2006, some analysts expected enterprises to upgrade operating systems and productivity suites at the same time in a two-kill-birds-with-one-stone operation.
It didn't happen, McNabb said. "Even if [enterprises] are moving forward on hardware, that doesn't mean they're moving on Vista."
When asked why there was a disconnect between the two - why Office 2007 was enjoying considerable success in the corporate market and Vista was not - McNabb had a quick answer. "It's been much easier to make the case to move forward on Office, especially with SharePoint, than with Vista. Their investments in Office are directly related to the productivity needs of those information workers."
IT managers see Vista differently, as simply "nice to have," noted McNabb. "But they can't see how people will be more productive with Vista."
Earlier this week, another Forrester analyst released results of monthly surveys conducted throughout 2007 that polled more than 50,000 enterprise computer users. According to the surveys, Windows Vista accounted for only 6 percent of all business users of Windows by the end of the year. The polls also showed that Windows XP usage remained constant at around 89 percent; Vista's gains seemed at the expense of Windows 2000, not the dominant Windows XP.