It ends Jan 13 2009 to be precise. It would be amusing if that was a Friday, but it isn’t.
Here is a link- its to the Google cache version so you can avoid the intrusive malware that seems to have infected the MS Office site recently
So that is 14 months away, just over a year! Office 14 is pencilled in for mid 2009 release so it looks like for a while there 2007 will be the only supported version. I’m going to stick my neck out and say that will leave the majority of their customers with an unsupported version of Office. 2003 is probably at 60% now, but was around 30% in 2005, 2 years after release.
If 2007 follows the same curve (and there are plenty of arguments that it could be better or worse) it will be around 30% in 2009 at the point it becomes the only version with mainstream support. That leaves 70% of Office users without mainstream support. If that isn’t an opportunity for alternative productivity suites I don’t know what is.
Office 2003 has not been officially available since June 2007, although I’m sure that won’t stop most orgs accessing it for new pcs, either via a subscription downgrade, or some other method.
Likewise just because their version is not supported doesn’t mean orgs are going to abandon it either. Currently around 40% of the market are running a version of Excel that is either out of mainstream support, or out of all support (2002 or older).
I’m assuming the logic goes something like tried and tested, but unsupported is better than unproven but supported. Do you see it differently? (each org will have its own definition of ‘better’)
This is the only explanation I can think of for why users of unsupported versions don’t abandon ship to an alternative like OpenOffice. That and the investment they have in functioning Excel/VBA based line of business apps and reports. Microsoft clearly don’t see retraining as an adoption blocker, otherwise 2007 would have had a compatibility mode.
Lack of support is the number one reason I hear for lack of adoption of open source stuff, but in these modern day times of OS bounties you could probably get OS stuff patched for the same price as a full cost support call.
Do you think its just inertia? Do you foresee any significant changes in the spreadsheet market? Increased fragmentation?
I can imagine in 12-24 months needing Excel2003, Excel2007, OpenOffice and Google Docs knowledge to cover the same proportion of the market you cover now with just Excel97-2003 skills. Can you?