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Microsoft Office 2007 migration aches foreshadow 2010

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It has been predicted Microsoft's Office 2010 will cause migration headaches, but for some, the pain is already here.

Customers speaking with The Reg are experiencing major delays in their move from Office 2003 to 2007, more than three years after Microsoft released the latest version of its suite.

Problems include having to rewrite and test old VBA Office macros because they won't work in Office 2007, file incompatibilities, major interface changes, and instances where Outlook won't work on different versions of Microsoft's Exchange Server.

And while Microsoft has documented known problems, customers have complained it's the undocumented stuff they are uncovering that's really tripping them up and where Microsoft is not being helpful.

It seems that with 2010 on the horizon, some organizations are either only now moving to Office 2007 or are still struggling with Office 2007 more than three years after it shipped.

Directions on Microsoft managing vice president of research Rob Helm tells The Reg he expects more customers will experience problems as they too make the move to Office 2007.

Helm said some organizations are only now upgrading after postponed the move because of the changes involved.

"Even if you decide on the dawn of Office 2007's arrival to complete a migration, organizations need to find all the macros used for critical tasks and identify a representative sample of files and test them on the new version," Helm said.

He said Microsoft could be doing more to help customers with technical and migration consultation under its Software Assurance (SA) program.

He noted that small organizations that are unlikely to be on SA are also likely to need assistance, as large enterprises will at least have dedicated IT teams that can plan and implement the upgrade.

Architectural engineering consultant Benchmark Group has postponed its Office 2007 rollout three years after it first looked at the migration. It told The Reg the project is on hold because of both documented and undocumented problems with macro and file-format incompatibilities between Outlook and Word. It has also been unable to use Outlook 2007 in mixed Exchange Server 2003 and 2007 environments.

Benchmark, which prides itself as an early adopter of PCs in building design, has had to rewrite each of its 75 macros used by 400 users in mobile, remote, and office-based locations.

Workstation administrator Christopher Blake told us Benchmark had spent "months and months" recoding single macros and still things don't work. "We need the conversion process to happen very smoothly so we are investing a lot of time up front to ensure that," he said.

Today, just 30 per cent of the company's staff has some form of Office 2007 running - such as Word, Excel or Outlook - with just two per cent using the full suite.

MSD Capital said it rolled back to Office 2003 because it had "a lot of heavy Excel users" who'd built their own macros. MSD Capital is an 80-employee, $10bn investment fund set up to manage the capital of Dell founder and chief executive Michael Dell and his family.

MSD's Jason Palatty said: "We have a lot of users who have their own .XLA add ins, but when you use that in Office 07 that broke and we had to roll them back."

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