2009 Predictions

I guess I could rehash my 2008 fails but I’ll try instead to cover some new ground. Here is what I reckon will happen in 2009

(note this is what I really think will happen, that is not the same as what I WANT to happen, or HOPE will happen):

  1. (90%) Office 14 beta will be out
  2. (80%) Office 14 will not be released in 2009 (O2007 had 12m+beta, I think?)
  3. (80%) OpenOffice.org will hit 2 3 3.5 million downloads a week (regularly) (they hit 2 in Oct, 3 in Nov/Dec)
  4. (60%) Apple won’t release a Netbook, and will keep their ‘quality’ niche.
  5. (70%) News of commercial/enterprise Office 2007 deployments (client tools) will start filtering through the on-line communities
  6. (60%) Some people will actually try Excel services (not easy…)
  7. (70%) More netbooks will come with Ubuntu/ mainstream disties rather than manufacturer-specific Linux variants
  8. (80%) Microsoft will not address the fail that the ‘Gargantur’ UI of Office 2007 basically precludes its use on the only growing PC segment (netbooks)
  9. (80%) OpenOffice will continue to be the defacto standard for netbooks.
  10. (70%) Somebody that the airheads listen too will finally help them see the futility and pointlessness of much of the cloud BS and the web 2.0 BS we have endured for the last year or so.
  11. (80%) Companies whose business plan does not indicate a way to actually generate an amount of cash at least of the same order of magnitude as their costs will finally struggle to access capital.
  12. (70%) There will be some more consolidation in the spreadsheet compliance tool space. Expect to see 1 or 2 follow Compassoft to the fjords.
  13. (70%) Microsoft will report some pretty grim financials, worse than the Wall street numpties are expecting. But not surprising to anyone connected with the real world. (I’m thinking sub 15 USD share price in 2009)(The rest of tech will also take a bath)
  14. (80%) .net will continue to be largely irrelevant for most Excel/VBA devs
  15. (100%) Spreadsheets will still not be sexy.
  16. [edit] (70%) Sun will get bought or go bust, and I think a close look at the financials of many tech firms would show a high risk of failure.

I think 2009 will be pretty lean, which I welcome in some ways, as a lot of time and money wasters will be outed. It may also focus attention on productivity and effectiveness. 2 areas where frankly Excel and VBA deliver (when used wisely of course (and classique of course)).

My main focus, from a commercial view will be more migration and compliance tools for sale via codematic. For interest I’ll be updating my (light) Sharepoint knowledge to 2007 and getting to grips (a bit) with Excel services, and VS2008). And I intend to release some new C/C++ xlls. I may also release some E2007 compliant versions of my add-ins and tools.

I would like to say I’ll migrate a bunch of stuff to OpenOffice, but I remain to be convinced the returns are there. Unless you know different?

Further afield I have been doing a little (very little!) Linux dev in C, I’d like to continue that, but I suspect time will be short for that. I’m dreaming of doing some Android dev on the Google phone. But that’s a pretty big leap!

We have an MS Office Developers Advisory Council meet next spring, so maybe I’ll be buzzing about Office/Excel 14 (All under NDA of course). I might try the early adopter path rather than the luddite path I followed for O2007. Although being off that hamster wheel for 18 months was a sound move I think. It gave me chance to focus my energies in other more directly useful areas.

I am undecided if open source will make big inroads v proprietory stuff (as some commentators are suggesting given the financial climate). Logic says it should if it represents better value, but history suggests many companies like paying for vendor support services. So I expect the status quo to be the big winner in 2009, not any kind of change.

There are rumours of a new Windows in 2009 too, I can’t decide if this is a big thing or not. If MS marketing is as effective as they were with Vista then this will have zero impact. If they get their act together then it could be big.

So in summary:

  • Netbooks – BIG
  • OpenOffice – BIG
  • Mainstream Linux Disties – Medium
  • MS Office – building
  • Cloud – small and insignificant

Thats my predictions, what are yours?

What do you agree/disagree with and why?



20 Responses to “2009 Predictions”

  1. Dennis Wallentin Says:

    Simon et al:

    1 .NET will be more important to more MS Office developers during 2009!
    2. An Office 14 beta will be out where we get improved Ribbon APIs.
    3. The XML file format strenght its position as more and more corporates move to Office 2007 and continue to to move to the XML era.

    I don’t play any important role in the online Excel developer community but if anyone care I intend to release one .NET based free Excel tools.
    At my blog I will continue to discuss and support .NET/VSTO together with SharePoint/ExcelService.

    Kind regards,

  2. jonpeltier Says:

    I wasn’t excited enough by Simon’s list to make any comments, but then Dennis gave me the poke I needed.

    I think we’ll see an Office 14 Beta. I don’t expect to be too excited by it.

    The Office 14 ribbon will be an improvement over the Office 12 ribbon, but I don’t expect to be too excited by it.

    I really don’t expect much uptake of .net/vsto among “real” Office developers.

    Is anyone really making direct use of the XML formats in 2007? Perhaps some server-based solutions, but how about in desktop applications? I think the noise about XML formats will subside even further, at least until the O14 beta is released.

  3. Bob Phillips Says:


    I was very much of a similar mind on XML, but recently I have been building more and more apps where I use XML to hold data, the sort of stuff that I would have put in INI files, or even the registry. I find it very easys to update, and Altova is a good tool for the initial setup.

  4. ross Says:

    My prediction is that Ubuntu will get growth like open office, which will in turn increase the take up of Open office.

    I’ve switch to Ubuntu as a single boot OS on my laptop, running virtualbox OSE with an XP VM, to say it’s f#@king amazing is an understatement!!! – I love compiz too, but I bet your too serious to mess around with all that sort of stuff!

  5. jonpeltier Says:

    Bob –

    I don’t mean XML as a format for text data. I was referring to all of the noise we’ve been subjected to for three years about the new Office XML open file formats.

    I’ve used XML marked-up text files a great deal for data, and Excel 2003 works well with these files.

  6. Bob Phillips Says:


    Seeing you refer specifically to formats in 2007, I can see what you meant now.

    I think it is typical MS, they hear of the latest hot topic and jump in with size 12s – because they are afraid they might miss something (search engine – Yahoo, the whole internet thing at the start, cloud based computing now, … the list goes on). They really need to get back to setting the agenda, not trying to react to every fad.

  7. Simon Says:

    Dennis – I don’t see whats going to change to drive uptake of .net/Office? I don’t see the big surge of 2007 deployments that would be the best chance. O14 beta may increase the chatter but deployments are a long way out.

    I have had some discussions with a client about a .net network scanner to monitor their 2007 xml spreadsheets, so I do think there may be some opportunities around that. But I agree with Jon re server based. I can’t really see much value from a user/client pov. I’ve always thought xml was over rated, in general, and in office file formats.

    Ross thats the way I’m thinking too, and of course I havent played with compiz, thats exactly the sort of tat I turn off as soon as I can.

    I think our best chance to get the MS Office we want is for MS to wake up and realise OOo is eating their lunch. And to put that right by giving us what we want, not whatever they fancy.

    That said I don’t gain any confidence from the IE/FF competition. Even my parents use Firefox (and OpenOffice).

  8. Rob Bruce Says:

    Good luck with deployment of your .NET Excel tool Dennis.

    Just for reference, here are the sizes of the various .NET runtimes:

    .NET Framework 1.0 Redist: 19.7MB
    .NET Framework 1.1 Redist: 23.1MB
    .NET Framework 2.0 Redist: 22.4MB
    .NET Framework 3.0 Redist: 50.3MB ( x86 )
    .NET Framework 3.0 Redist: 90.1MB ( x64 )
    .NET Framework 3.5 Redist: 197.0MB

    And don’t forget that you can only run one version of the .NET framework within the Excel process at any one time. If your tool is compiled against the 3.5 framework and someone else’s tool, complied against the 2.0 framework is already loaded, then you’re in trouble.

    I genuinely wish I could use .NET with office all the time, but I can’t.

  9. Dennis Wallentin Says:

    If we review things from a platform where we only use Excel as a standalone development platform then 2009 will probably mean business as usual, i.e. no need for .NET/VSTO or for XML.

    For about 1 year ago I released my first free .NET tool, .NET Co Library, which was developed against version 2.0 .NET Framework. One of the key issues that I thought I would be forced to handle was multiply versions of .NET Framework. Now, a year later, and with more then 4000 downloads I still wait to receive the first e-mail about it. But the main issue I have received e-mails about is that users run multiply versions of Excel!

    In my experience, if we let the clients take full responsibility of their desktop environments then deployment will not be an issue. As more and more corporates moves to the SharePoint platform we will see more .NET solutions and more unified desktop environments.

    When I look into the crystal ball I see a more interest in .NET/Office due to Office 14 will rely more on .NET then any previously version. Together with MSFT marketing it will be a driver for more corporates to start to explore .NET/Office.

    Kind regards,

  10. jonpeltier Says:

    “They really need to get back to setting the agenda, not trying to react to every fad.”
    So true.

    “Even my parents use Firefox”
    My dad switched sometime this year because IE was so slow.

    Rob –
    Looks like exponential growth.

    Dennis –
    “if we let the clients take full responsibility of their desktop environments”
    I don’t know how typical my client base is. I’d guess that 90% of my clients work in organizations with less than 10 people, 50% with only 2 or 3 people. From what I understand, these are not ideal candidates for SharePoint.

  11. Simon Says:

    I think the .net barriers are more cultural/political than technical.

    What will make the business trust IT more? What will make IT trust the business to deploy safe applications?

    Dennis you may be right and Sharepoint will be that catalyst. Or it could just be the next battleground of badly designed end user computing versus IT/compliance/auditing and regulators.

    I think the ribbon is an MS attempt to set the agenda – trying to leapfrog Apple alright, but still trying to set the agenda. I think they are too out of touch, and too dependent on grossly flawed, misleading ‘data’ to set any agendas. I wish they would ignore the fads and crap data (CEIP – you know who you are!) and deliver what sensible users keep asking for.

  12. Dennis Wallentin Says:


    I would guess that the profile of Your customer stock is quite common among pro Excel developers. SharePoint is definitely out of the picture for small corporates like that. But perfect candidates for .NET and VSTO solutions!

    The good part with MOSS is that all documents can be collected into the same garbage can, sorry, same centralized storage. But as with everything else, it solve some issues but it also creates new issues.

    The line-of-business will trust IT only when it supports their business commitments. While IT will never trust the business, at least not when it’s about IT. In this context the existence of server platforms is an acceptable compromise for both parts. Perhaps that explain the success with SharePoint?

    Oh well, it’s time to shut down the business for this year so I wish everyone a healthy and safe happy new year!

    All the best,

  13. Harlan Grove Says:

    The US must be different than Europe. Or maybe really big companies compared to medium size companies.

    I work for a large global financial services company. No SharePoint in sight. I believe I’ve mentioned before that companies which still use Lotus Notes generally don’t use any Microsoft server software. I know it’s true where I work as well as at our major competitors and at the intermediaries through which we do most of our business. Maybe large manufacturing or commercial real estate management companies use SharePoint.

    Anyway, businesses may begin to adopt MSO 2007, but individuals aren’t going to go out of their way to pay for upgrades in 2009. To the extent IT departments view MSO 2007 as requiring training for users used to MSO 2003 and prior, 2009 training budgets aren’t going to support upgrading.

    My fearless prediction. If economists’ consensus is that economies worldwide aren’t going to begin recovery until 4th quarter 2009, Microsoft isn’t going to bother with either Windows or Office production releases in 2009. Maybe public betas sometime in Q3 or Q4, but that’d imply the design phase for ribbon API improvements has already been completed or will be before the end of Q1. Otherwise the ribbon API would be a work-in-progress in a public beta released in 2009 – not a good idea.

    As far as Linux goes, it’s main benefit over Windows is that it can run on very old hardware. Schools in the US aren’t going to be buying much new hardware for the next year or two, so they’re going to rely more on donated hardware. Combine the limited hardware resources these machines will have with MSFT’s, er, eager insistence on strict adherence to license terms (donors much provide original disks, certificates of authenticity, manuals (if any), and some districts also insist on receiving original software invoices just to make sure they’re safe from piracy lawsuits) even on donations to nonprofit, educational or charitable organizations, and I think it’s a near certainty Linux will increase it’s penetration into US schools. Similarly for government at all levels – lack of purchasing budgets will lead either to greater uptake of FOSS or widespread flouting of OEM licenses.

  14. Marcus Says:

    — XML file format
    I’ve seen XML employed in banking middleware but have seen Sierra Foxtrot Alpha of XML in MSO development. Here the flat file still rules. I think one reason has to do with size – some of these text files are monsters. The other is overhead – IT departments can spend months to incorporate a new field in their XML definitions between systems which consume the XML.

    Have seen zero in the way of XML file formats – haven’t encountered MSO07 in the wild as yet :P

    — .net/vsto
    I really, really, really want the business (iBank) to take more interest in .Net development and have even been using compliance (SoX, Basel) as a selling point. No cigar. Excel/Access/VBA is still perceived as THE way to deploy RAD solutions.
    I still can’t see any other pragmatic alternatives than xla’s and COM DLL’s (with VB6) for the Excel add-in work i do.

    I think the other aspect, as we’ve mentioned before, is control. The business still perceive that they have more control (and less IT dept involvement) with VBA development than .Net.

    Cheers – Marcus

  15. sarah Says:

    Firstly happy new year. Curious about point 12 – do you know something we don’t?

  16. Simon Says:

    Hi Sarah, happy new year to you too.

    No I know nothing special about the spreadsheet compliance market. It would be a bit of a cheat as a prediction if I did!

    I just think times are hard, belts are being tightened, if Compassoft with their funding failed, then it must be a challenging market. Or they could have been weak from a business aspect, possibly a bit of both.

    Banks and financial services were/are(?) a key customer of compliance stuff – and look what a battering they are taking.

    I see plenty of places implementing End User Computing compliance via written policy rather than something a bit more rigorous like tool based.

    I’d know more if I actually managed to get XLAnalyst up for sale. Free downloads are not properly representative.

  17. Johan Nordberg Says:

    Simon: Do you have any real stats that the ribbon is such a flaw as you costantly say?

    I’ve used the Word XML inside of Word 2003/2007 to transform Word document to valid semantic XHTML och extract images from the document. I’ve used this to publish documents to web based content management systems and blogs.

    I’ve also used Office XML to transform business data into nice looking Word or Excel documents. This is more server based though.

  18. Simon Says:


  19. Johan Nordberg Says:

    How about making a post about those stats and including sources? Would be interesting to read. Really.

  20. 2009 Prediction review « Smurf on Spreadsheets Says:

    […] 2009 Prediction review By Simon This time last year I made some predictions, here is how they seem to have turned out: […]

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