State of the profession

Dick M asks if we (Office developers) are a dying breed. At least I think he’s asking – he could be telling us our profession is wilting away. Whatever, I agree. Completely.

Office developer, Excel developer, business developer, these mean pretty much the same thing to me, its a person nearer the business than a traditional IS department dev. They probably use a range of tools/platforms, they mainly target desktop rather than server, Excel usually features as at least part of the interface (or calc engine), source data may be from a server database, but working data is likely to be in jet. Glue code may be VB6 or .net but most likely VBA. The best differentiators (from mainstream devs) are around business acumen rather than technical tool choice.

Anyway Dick mentions a few items, here are my thoughts:

Value for work – Bad and getting worse, its getting so only City institutions understand the value of Excel, which is bizarre considering their normal sheep like tendencies. ( I suppose they are flocking round each other).

Respect – Bad and getting worse, for years I was embarrassed to admit I did a lot of work in Excel, as ‘real devs don’t touch Excel – hobbyists only’. Then as Eusprig gathered momentum I got a bit more confident, but I think that quality/error movement has stalled a little now. So back to claiming to be a mainstream dev for me I reckon.

Continuity – Bad and getting worse, I used to coach client staff in what I was doing in Excel/Access/VBA etc. These days they turn their noses up, happy to pick up some SQL or C# but no Excel/VBA thank you. I just don’t see many people rushing into our technologies.

Conclusion – yeah we’re proper fooked. Unless MS are going to wake up to their most valuable asset – MS Office on an MS Windows desktop. By wake up I mean the hand in pocket wake up, not the cheap soundbite one thats been (pointlessly) running (well walking) for as long as I can remember.

I don’t think us devs will be the losers we’ll just move to techs where the opportunities are better. The real losers will be MS as customers move to other platforms that have an apparently better cost/benefit story, but only because they are unaware of much of the benefit of the MS Office platform. [Ignoring for the time being the cost/no benefit fubar known as the 2007 UI shuffle]

The other losers of course will be businesses far and wide that have to wait for their IS departments to implement their grossly over engineered, over priced, over due, big iron monsters, just in time to realise the business requirement has moved on.

The winners are of course the IS departments who gain control, power and loads of low pressure work. If you know you will release straight into retirement (rather than production) there are lots of unpleasant things you can forgo, like testing, and documentation for example.

Is this how you see things?

or are you seeing different trends?

How do you think things will pan out in 3-5 years?

Do you have an escape plan?

Please comment here or on Dicks post

cheers

Simon

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27 Responses to “State of the profession”

  1. Biggus Dickus Says:

    You the man !!! That’s what I was trying to say, but you “fooking”-well nailed it ;-) ….

    Biggus

  2. Charles Says:

    I don’t disagree with much of what you say, but from my perspective you are overdoing the gloom.
    The last 2 years have been the busiest for me since I started the business 12 years ago (I have been actively transferring jobs to other people), and my prices have been raised significantly to try to reduce the workload (but without much effect).
    This year looks like being less heavily loaded, which is a good thing as hopefully it will hopefully allow me to work on the next Version of FastExcel etc (several years overdue!).

    Not sure why my experience should be different?

  3. alastair Says:

    that is a gloomy prognosis – but I share your views on where office is going. If there is to be a replacement “glue” then I reckon it lies in web tools and mysql. And from what I can gather the Amazon cloud in particular is somewhat addictive!

  4. Marcus Says:

    Dying? Perhaps. But not because there aren’t any companies which appreciate the rapid value add that MSO development provides but more because there are so few companies – including those which value it – who will invest in staff to pursue such development. On the other side of the pendulum is an IT department who continually decry to the business the dangers of MSO development.

    My experience seems to resonate Charles’. Last year in particular was flat out. One major project was a migration of Excel/Access/VBA solution to a server based one while another was developing MIS tools for a business unit who explicitly did not want the IT department involved. I worked on both projects for the same company – simultaneously.

    “value for work… city institutions…”
    I’d put this down to 2 main factors. First is the nature of the data being dealt with while the second relates to the speed at which bespoke solutions (albeit tactical ones) can be produced. Unfortunately most of the tactical solutions effectively become the strategic ones which probably lends to MSO development’s poor image.

    “Respect – Bad and getting worse”
    I once heard a joke about McDonald’s – its dirty little secret was that every one does it but no one admits it. I’ve had more than one IT manager privately acknowledge the (important) role MSO development plays in the overall IT service offering, while publicly denouncing such development as risky, undisciplined, yadda, yadda, yadda…
    If I was just after respect, I wouldn’t be a nerd; I’d being doing something else for a living.

    “Continuity”
    This isn’t extinction, it’s evolution. How many of us are still using DOS batch files (okay, I’m still using a couple). While the IT industry has matured, the tools have evolved as well. However, I think there’s plenty of life in the ol’ gal yet. There are many organisations whose lifeblood is spreadsheets.

    Work over the next few years will include maintaining and developing new MSO solutions (although new may start to decline), developing new solutions in alternate or complementary technology (.Net, VSTO, Excel Services) or migrating MSO solutions to server based (which is where you earn a living going in and coming out).

    Cheers – Marcus

  5. Stephen Bullen Says:

    Admittedly, I work for a City institution, but I don’t see the same thing at all. I see the IT departments beginning to appreciate what Excel can bring to the table – as long as those Excel solutions are appropriately designed and developed (i.e. according to some standards, adding bits to make them more supportable, etc).

    In fact I run the Strategic Spreadsheet Development team (part of IT), in which my team and I work very closely with the business users and your “business developers” to ensure they effectively leverage the server-side tools that the rest of IT is working on, and provide the liaison point through which the business developers can get the IT systems changed to make them easier to leverage – and hence more cost-effective for the company.

    Going forward, I see that collaboration growing – IT will make server-side calc farms, data processing, distribution, etc more available and able to take some of the pure workload off the desktop – so the end-users experience is of a snappier, more responsive and ultimately more accurate (Excel) application.

  6. Biggus Dickus Says:

    Stephen:

    “my team and I work very closely with the business users and your “business developers” to ensure they effectively leverage the server-side tools that the rest of IT is working on, and provide the liaison point through which the business developers can get the IT systems changed to make them easier to leverage – and hence more cost-effective for the company.”

    It’s great to hear what is happening for you in the company you work for in “The City”. This is a |dream” situation and I wish it was always like that, but I am afraid I think it only represents a unique situation facilitated by an enlightened manager somewhere and by the influence of your personal skills as an influencer and of course your status as an acknowledged world-class expert on Excel (which most people are not unfortunately ;-). )

    “Going forward, I see that collaboration growing – IT will make server-side calc farms, data processing, distribution, etc more available and able to take some of the pure workload off the desktop – so the end-users experience is of a snappier, more responsive and ultimately more accurate (Excel) application.”

    Of course wouldn’t that be wonderful? I think the reality in the outside world is as I and Simon have described – sorry to say. Things are not going to just evolve that way on their own. There has to be a coordinated effort by all of us to get the word out and to sell that vision. It is not going to magically happen – even though it makes total, perfect sense.

    Dick

  7. Charles Says:

    I said, “This year looks like being less heavily loaded”, then I got a call from one department from one of my major customers to outline what they want over the next 12 months, sounds like I am going to be busy.

    One significant piece of work will be converting the Jet backend to Oracle, because the IT dept insists on replacing access/jet with more secure/robust solutions.

    And another department from the same customer wants the eighth revision to their app, and the Asia/Pacific guys want their own tailored version.

    So maybe the companies that already use our kind of system understand the value they get, but perhaps its getting harder to find new companies that are not already brainwashed/braindead?

  8. Stephane Rodriguez Says:

    At least, you can be sure of one thing : those making direct access to Excel format spaghetti (OOXML) will not steal your revenue stream since any change in the file is guaranteed to either create discrepancies or corrupt the file altogether. Soon enough, the developer understands he has to rewrite portions of Excel instead of doing what he’s paid for, no surprise this isn’t going to work very well…

    As for Jet, it reminded me that there is not a 64-bit version of Jet (I said before there is not a 64-bit version of MS Excel, and there is not a 64-bit version of OWC). So the guess is that Microsoft might be trying, over years, to get those Jet people to switch to something else.

  9. Marcus Says:

    “Microsoft …trying …get those Jet people to switch to something else”

    I was under the impression that MS had already been trying that for some time; first with MSDE and now SQL Server Express.

    Regards –

  10. Simon Says:

    Charles
    Good point in the last para, my repeat work rate is pretty much 100%, I can’t remember ever only doing 1 piece of work for a client – they always come back for more. But getting that initial foot in the door seems harder and harder.

    Stephane so the OOXML consultants will be too busy trying to keep up with format changes? I can well believe it.

    OWC is dead and gone I thought? Jet is part of Windows so do you know if its there in Vista? and if its 64 bit on 64 bit Vista? or is it just 32 bit in a WOW layer?

    Marcus – thats right, but they have never come close (they just do not understand ‘ease of deployment’). I wonder with the new love for Access whether jet will see some love? Or will Access 14 be based on MSDE/SQL Express/some other new thing?

  11. Mike Alexander Says:

    This is a load of nonsense. We are not a dying breed. Anyone who says so is probably miffed because they are not finding consulting gigs.

    I have worked with at least 20 of the fortune 50 companies and I’m here to tell you that none of them are (or will ever be) beyond the need for Office development. I currently do work for EDS, Verizon, ASM, and Pepsico. They all have one or more of the high-dollar ERP systems you would expect a large company to have (Business Objects, SAP, EssBase, Proclarity, and the list goes on). But many many many of their day-to-day data processes live and breath through Excel, Access and SQL server. That is a fact.

    Office Development is dead? Are you kidding me? 91% of companies have reported that spreadsheets make up an integral part of their monthly financial reporting. Are we supposed to believe that they will all move to some magical thing in the future?

    Even if SharePoint becomes the hub for all Office applications, there will be a large subset of pesky companies that (for some reason) will want to to retain offline Office processes.

    I believe that Office will evolve and develop into something that may look different from the stuff we see today. I even believe that our skill sets will have to grow include languages that we may not be familiar with now.

    So MY conclusion is that we are not a dying breed; we are not even a Wilting breed. If anything, we will becom an evolving breed.

  12. Simon Says:

    Mike
    Thats a bit strong – I assume you have some actual evidence? and you are not just claiming your personal experience is more valid than ours? (ours being ‘nonsense’ apparently)

    Perhaps we could agree that full time employees who are also book authors, and folks in the City are not seeing this but independent consultants are?

    The point was not about the need disappearing, its about the fact its not highly regarded and few new people are coming into Office dev. You are seeing lots of vibrant enthusiastic new recruits then I take it?

    Are you saying you are not seeing SOX inspired anti-spreadsheet pressure in the firms you consult with? I’m seeing that, even in the UK.

    Of course we’ll have to continue to evolve to be successful, as we have been for ever.
    cheers
    Simon

  13. Biggus Dickus Says:

    Mike:

    I do not like being argumentative on Blog sites but apparently you don’t – so here goes. Your post is a bunch of self-serving crap and the only thing it serves is your ego – which obviously needs stroking.

    Everything you say about the potential value of Excel and Access in corporations with ERP and other financial and data sources that Office can add value to is absolutely true. Unfortunately your statement that this is S.O.P. in all the major corporations is just simply not true. I don’t get it but I’m certainly not going to change what I see out there because of your post.

    Dck

  14. Jon Peltier Says:

    Mike seems to have touched a raw nerve. That’s what makes Simon’s blog interesting: the exchange of differing opinions.

    I happen to think Mike is mostly correct. I have very few large corps among my clients; those I do are acting more like small companies who have this Excel/Office infrastructure and not a lot of IT support to drive migration to the Next Big Thing. So I can’t say I understand what is typical.

    However, one thing I know is typical in all large corporations: inertia, immobility, a conservative/reactionary approach to change. What they will change is staffing levels in an effort to make this week’s balance sheet look better, at the expense of next week’s, next month’s, and next year’s. So they lay off staff, then they are stuck and need help. This is where some Office developers come into the picture. Other people become Office developers because they were the ones laid off, and the company didn’t know how to do the work they were doing, so the discarded employees are hired back as contractors. When times improve again, companies will not restaff these positions. They will instead continue to use contractors, even increase the number of contracts.

    (As evidence I present my 17 years working for the man in corporate America, and my two good eyes which are seeing the same behavior continuing today. An associate of mine is in the position of being laid off next month, and he’s already drawing up the paperwork to continue on as a consultant. Usually it takes the company longer to realize what they’re losing.)

    If you knew Mike, you’d know he’s not serving his ego. Mike’s not that kind of guy, he doesn’t care what others may think, he’s just sharing what he thinks.

  15. Biggus Dickus Says:

    Jon:

    What you say is true, it’s just that to me that is not a very efficient way to operate ;-). I’d like to see Office development become a more “professional” pursuit rather than an oddly “amateur” one (amateur in the sense that as you say careers sorta develop by accident or fortunate circumstance). I’d like to see it be recieved better within large corporations because they are really best-placed to take advantage of the functionality and felxibility of Excel/Access because of their available systems and data and because their cheques don’t usually bounce….

    I am sure you are right about Mike A being a good guy, but I have been doing Spreadsheet development since 1983 and as a career since 1985 and I do believe that my perceptions are right and his are wrong – simple. I also think that saying that everything’s wonderful just because you personally are doing great (as I am as well frankly) is not very helpful or realistic to the bigger picture.

    I guess I should just not give a s**t and only worry about my own ass and not try to help the overall community. I’m stupid I guess. (Oops sorry about that … it just slipped out … ;-) )

    Thanx for your thoughts Jon.

    Dick

  16. Mike Alexander Says:

    Simon:
    “you are not just claiming your personal experience is more valid than ours? (ours being ‘nonsense’ apparently)”

    My post was not targeted at anyone in general. What I call ‘nonsense’ is the notion that Office development is dying. I never said anyone’s experiences are nonsense.

    “Perhaps we could agree that full time employees who are also book authors, and folks in the City are not seeing this but independent consultants are?.”

    So because I’m in the city, and have written a book, the companies I come in contact with are entrenched with Office? I’m not sure what to say. What business productivity tool do they use in the country? It may be that I’m in the Dallas market where many corporate headquarters are located, but I see many major corporations that are heavily reliant on Excel and Access to manage even the most important of data processes. I can’t believe that smaller companies have some other magical tool. This may be a question of the types of customers each independent consultant serves. Nevertheless, is equally wrong to say that Office development is “dying” because the clients you serve are moving away from it.

    “The point was not about the need disappearing, it’s about the fact it’s not highly regarded and few new people are coming into Office dev. You are seeing lots of vibrant enthusiastic new recruits then I take it?”

    I have some news…WE HAVE NEVER BEEN HIGHLY REGARDED. I’m still fighting the same IT managers as when I started. I heard the phrase “Excel/Access are toy applications” years and years ago. As far as recruits go, one does not get “recruited” into Office development. The typical Office developer started out as a financial or business analyst that became an expert by making the best of the tools he had available (namely the tools in Microsoft Office)

    “Are you saying you are not seeing SOX inspired anti-spreadsheet pressure in the firms you consult with? I’m seeing that, even in the UK.”

    Sure I do. But there is a difference between the ideal and the ordeal. Unless the anti-spreadsheet crowd comes up with a viable alternative their arguments the advocate abandoning Excel remain academic. And by the way, I just so happened to have worked on three separate projects where I was asked to pull SOX-related data INTO Excel libraries.

    Bigus Dickus:
    ”I do not like being argumentative on Blog sites but apparently you don’t – so here goes. Your post is a bunch of self-serving crap and the only thing it serves is your ego – which obviously needs stroking.”

    I typically don’t post on blogs and I definitely don’t need to brag on blogs to stroke my own ego. Besides, I lost my ego about 80 Pounds ago. At this point, I don’t have an ego, I have an Eggo. The reason I came off harsh is I’m frankly sick of blogs and articles telling me how Office is dying, VBA is dying, and my ‘profession’ will be extinct within a few years. I understand that it makes for some juicy blog posts. But be ready to hear some disagreement.

    “Unfortunately your statement that this is S.O.P. in all the major corporations is just simply not true. I don’t get it but I’m certainly not going to change what I see out there because of your post. Unfortunately your statement that this is S.O.P. in all the major corporations is just simply not true. I don’t get it but I’m certainly not going to change what I see out there because of your post.”

    I never said All. I said even in corporations where ERP systems are prevalent and high profile, there are still “many many many” day-to-day data processes that live and breathe through Excel, Access and SQL server. That *is* a fact. Forrester and Gartner have done studies on the adoption and utilization of ERP systems once implemented. The fact is ERP systems rarely ever replace 100% of shadow reporting and parallel process. This is because of a lot of reasons. Some of with are: lack of flexibility, overly tight restrictions, lack of familiarity, speed issues, and the list goes on.

    Listen everyone. I understand that I’m talking from my own experiences, but none of my 15 years of experience tells me that any company is ready to give up Office. And as long as there is Office, there will always be the need for Office Development.

    Jon: Thanks for the kind words. But deep inside…aren’t we all just good guys waiting to come out.

  17. jonpeltier Says:

    Dick –

    I think Office Development will never have the kind of aura about it you’d like. I became a Professional Office Developer pretty much by accident, and I’ve heard the story repeated dozens of times. The big shot IT guys look down on us, but we can do neat stuff quickly.

    One of my first Excel projects was a pretty slick piece of XL4 coding that automated the Solver. I was using it to model high temperature mechanical behavior of turbine alloys, and wrote it after it was so difficult to get the model calculated by the engineers in the other division. They saw my results one time, and wondered how I’d calculated them. Somewhat sheepishly I said I’d done it in Excel. The engineer thought that was cool, they used Excel too, but my results matched their high-powered mainframe results more closely. We shared that app, to the chagrin of the IT guys who ran the mainframes, but it was lightweight and quick and easy to use.

    As long as I can keep doing nice quick projects like that one, I may not get the respect, but I’ll get the work. Maybe I do get a decent amount of respect too, judging from my web stats. It’s how you set expectations and how you measure your results.

  18. Biggus Dickus Says:

    Mike:

    Your calm, measured response to my vitriol was great and appreciated. I hate to fight – really I do.

    We may be looking here at the classic example of how text messaging can’t always reflect the nuances of an argument (although in my case there wasn’t much nuance was there?).

    “I said even in corporations where ERP systems are prevalent and high profile, there are still “many many many” day-to-day data processes that live and breathe through Excel, Access and SQL server.”

    Absolutely and thank the software Gods for that. But I recently told a senior IT manager at a major Corporation that their rush to reinvent all their Enterprise apps into one Global ERP system and eliminate Access and Excel from “offical” supported production status would lead to huge parts of their business being run on “unofficial” user-developed and unsupported spreadsheets. I don’t call that progress is all.

    “I understand that I’m talking from my own experiences, but none of my 15 years of experience tells me that any company is ready to give up Office. And as long as there is Office, there will always be the need for Office Development. ”

    Agreed, but once again my argument is that unless this technology is promoted and “legitimized” it will always be underutilized and frankly will continue to be its own worst enemy. If risky, poorly designed and inefficient design and implementation remains the norm, spreadsheets and Access databases will continue to be targeted by IT as a curse rather than as a source of legitimate solutions. Then why would any young person be interested in learning the skills to make things “right” ? Thus a “Dying Breed” – literally.

    I would have thought we would agree on this, but that’s ok.

    Dick

  19. Biggus Dickus Says:

    Jon:

    “I think Office Development will never have the kind of aura about it you’d like. ”

    Maybe not but it could get a little polish ?? ;-)

    I can’t count the number of times Excel has allowed me to do massive amounts of “quick and dirty” work that absolutely stunned my clients (and me actually). But then they say – “What if you get hit by a truck?” Good question.

    That’s what I’m worried about – if this technology is so damned good – as we know it is – then doesn’t it deserve a place at the table rather than hiding under it ??? Why shouldn’t it gain some legitimacy? Wouldn’t that be in MS’s interest too and of course wouldn’t it also ultimately be in the interests of businesses worldwide?

    Dick

  20. Simon Says:

    so we all agree on the base stuff, Office is critical to many process, and ‘can do neat stuff quickly’ (credit: Jon)

    I think we disagree on the trend and the effects.

    Some of us see it in decline, some don’t.

    Can we agree that a lot of Office dev work is skunkworks style, without the approval of the IS department? (I think this is where the financial services are different – they approve Office dev more)

    Can we agree that there is little encouragement from MS to use it (beyond hollow soundbites and patronising, gringeworthy songy things).

    And can we agree if they invested some money in legitimising Office dev within IS departments, and in general then it could really flourish?

    I’m pleased we seem to have cleared up the tension – often things read a lot different than they write, a problem that occurs much less in the pub over a few beers.
    cheers
    Simon

  21. Biggus Dickus Says:

    Simon:

    I agree completely – especially about the “patronising, gringeworthy songy things” (I don’t know if you know it, but you have a way with words ;-) )….

    Let’s just all find ways to do better spreadsheets and to encourage others to do the same.

    Thanx for this Blog my friend.

    Dick

  22. jonpeltier Says:

    “Office dev work is skunkwork”
    Agree

    “there is little encouragement from MS to use it”
    Agree

    “if they invested some money in legitimising Office dev”
    Dream on, it will never happen this way. only with tons of VSTO and .Net and the like.

  23. Biggus Dickus Says:

    Jon:

    ““if they invested some money in legitimising Office dev”
    Dream on, it will never happen this way. only with tons of VSTO and .Net and the like.”

    I think this IS possible. But it will require people like us pushing for it at MS every time we get a chance. Some people there DO listen ….

    Dick

  24. Mike Alexander Says:

    “Office dev work is skunk work”
    Agree. But no more skunk work than the sloppy .asp web tools that IT puts up every day. Skunk work can be well done.

    “there is little encouragement from MS to use it”
    I’m not sure what kind of encouragement you have in mind. What do you call encouragement? Here is the encouragement I see:

    1. MS updates the Office Object models to ensure programmability of any new features?

    2. With each new version, the MDSN knowledge base grows with articles about development techniques?

    3. You can find tons of Microsoft-created templates (both Access and Excel) that provide a starting point for programming your own Contact Management System, Project Tracking System, Invoicing App, and so on.

    I think what you may be talking about is encouraging respect from the IT department. I don’t think it’s Microsoft’s place to tell IT Departments to encourage Office Development. The IT folks just don’t get it. My sense is that no matter what MS does with Office, IT will always look at Office Development with a leery eye.

    “if they invested some money in legitimizing Office dev”
    I personally think that this is on its way. Microsoft has seen Google Spreadsheets, Zoho, and the like. I think they consider Office online as a big growth business. I think they will spend tons of money on developing Office programmability and “legitimizing Office dev” (whether it be on or offline).

  25. Dennis Wallentin Says:

    Here we go:

    .NET & VSTO is part of ‘Office development’ and therefore MSFT actually promote ‘Office development’. Not in the good ol’ fashion but where Office solutions are integrated in ‘enterprise’ solutions.

    .NET & VSTO offer enterprise developers a great opportunity to discover Excel and how to leverage it in their solutions.

    All in all. ‘Office development’ today differ a lot from yesterday.

    Kind regards,
    Dennis

  26. Biggus Dickus Says:

    Mile:

    “I personally think that this is on its way. Microsoft has seen Google Spreadsheets, Zoho, and the like. I think they consider Office online as a big growth business. I think they will spend tons of money on developing Office programmability and “legitimizing Office dev” (whether it be on or offline).”

    Hopefully, and I think they just may ….

    Dick

  27. Simon Says:

    Mike the skunkworks reference was purely on ‘approval’ level, nothing to do with quality of final system – many of the best things from Xerox, HP and other silicon valley legends were via their skunkworks programs.

    Jon: ‘Dream on’ – harsh but probably true!

    .net and VSTO are only part of Office development if you don’t equate Office dev with End User Computing, as VS is out of reach of many current VBA devs, who are firmly in the EUC world.

    Encouragement wise I would like to see MCS (Microsoft Consulting services) specifying Office based solutions more. And writing them up as best practice.

    I would like to see the same number of MS evangelists, and community events for Office devs as VS devs get.

    I would like to see more community support, for things like the Excel User Conf – MS should be sponsoring that and attending, and speaking. They should have a stand at Eusprig, tell how they are helping users create better spreadsheets and give away useful, usable tools, white papers etc (and perhaps some nice logoed up pens (Like my nice Offie14 one)).

    Mind you I guess the MSDN roadshows are a shadow of their former selves too.

    I would like to see them targeting advanced users with some of their system write-ups, rather than assuming full access to any tools they fancy – the real world is not like that.

    I know they want to link sales together, and the more different products you need to buy for your system the better for MS. But in reality if it gets too complex people will baulk, and either stick with the current or create something quick, easy and probably crap in Excel (perpetuating the myth that Excel is only good for creating sub standard systems).

    Mike good points on the current encouragement, although that is mainly Access based. Many of the templates that were released with Excel 2k were excluded from 2003. And many were locked down to prevent onwards development without a little hacking ;-).

    I’m not sure if its IT dept respect I’m thinking of, but I agree that is unlikely to happen. I do think MS has a role to play in the reputation of its products, although they would be swimming against the tide of crap spreadsheets out there ‘proving’ that Excel is great ‘only’ for creating crap spreadsheets.

    I’d rather see the investment in the desktop rather than the ‘cloud’, but I guess that would need a bit of a shove from OpenOffice.

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