The next 18 months is a hectic period for Microsoft customers with research showing organisations are undertaking major upgrades including plans to replace operating systems, office suites, mail servers and collaboration infrastructure.
According to surveys undertaken by Gartner earlier this year, many organisations have started their production deployments of Windows 7 with plans also underway to accelerate the deployment of Office 2010, the latest version of Microsoft's 20 year old productivity suite.
Recognising that these projects require careful planning to minimise cost, risk and complexity, Computerworld Australia has prepared this special feature on migrating to Microsoft Office 2010.
Missed Migrating to Microsoft Office 2010 Pt 1? Click here to read it now
Part 2: The major benefits of migrating
For most organisations upgrading is about accessing new features and functionality or it is part of a much broader IT strategy. Fortunately for Microsoft, the Office behemoth has a momentum all of its own and some enterprises will buy Office 2010 licenses for reasons that have nothing to do with functionality. One reason is sheer inertia.
"Many organisations have been buying Microsoft Office for years and will continue to do so. It works, it is well supported, and for many companies signing up for Office is the path of least resistance," according to Silver.
"The second reason is to stay current. Some organisations stayed on Office XP and Office 2003 scared off by the new file formats and Ribbon user interface of Office 2007.
"However, Microsoft is starting to withdraw support for these earlier versions of Office."
As most Microsoft customers are no doubt aware, Office 2003 support expires in April 2014 and many companies will move to Office 2010 to make sure support continues.
For companies that have signed up to buy Microsoft's 2010 set of collaboration infrastructure, Gartner says Office 2010 offers significant value.
"Office 2010's built-in abilities to share documents, perform synchronous co-authoring, see presence information, and see metadata suggestions will depend on whether an organisation has other Microsoft products installed," the research firm said.
"If a company has spent this kind of money on Microsoft's collaboration infrastructure it might as well leverage its capabilities in the latest version of Office.
"Add in the data gathering and research capabilities of OneNote, and workers will gain a highly functional front end to Microsoft's collaboration servers."
Gartner states it is definitely the right time to migrate. This is because it is best to spend six to 12 months from the time Office 2010 ships waiting for independent software vendor support.
"Plus there is the time required to undertake planning, testing and piloting before an organisation can commence production deployments of Office 2010," he said.
When deciding whether to upgrade to Office 2010, an organisation must consider two issues - the potential productivity gains from the new features as well as the organisation's own collaboration vision. Organisations set to get the most value from Office 2010 are those on the latest version of Microsoft's collaboration infrastructure including Exchange Server 2010, SharePoint 2010 or Office Communications Server 2007 R2.
A good productivity suite strategy helps employees generate and consume high quality documents while a bad strategy inhibits work and causes information loss. One of the downsides of migrating to Office 2010 is that there is a lot of code to deploy to users.
Organisations will still need to test compatibility with internal applications as well as testing ISV support.
Gartner warns that organisations without SharePoint will see less benefit.
Over the page: Who should be upgrading?