Microsoft’s Confusing Product Silo’ing
I am a big fan of the Microsoft Office suite. I immediately volunteered for Office 2010 beta 64-bit when it was released in 2009. I was a happy user. So happy I ignored the recent Microsoft’s email notices to move to the Office 2010 production release. That changed on Halloween night when Office posted a “trick or treat” message that my Office beta had expired. My company has a Microsoft partner subscription to new software like Office 2010, so I wasn’t concerned. However, being out of the office, I didn’t have the subscription activation keys…. so I decided to use a trial version of Office 2010 as a quick 30 day patch.
My experience was perplexing from a product technology point of view. The Office 2010 trial version download page promotes a 32-bit version. The 64-bit version is available on a non-obvious link called “advanced”. This amazes me as a technologist since PC CPUs transitioned to 64-bit processors 5 years (Intel) to 7 years (AMD) ago. Microsoft is still promoting 32-bit software over 64-bit software? Today, even a trial version of PC software should be 64-bit to focus software development on new features and performance. 32-bit software development should be a secondary effort for obsolete PCs that you do only as a favor to existing customers.
My experience was also perplexing from a consumer point of view. Most software today comes in a basic version along with upgrades/options. All the features are installed and upgraded via simple one click/drag-and-drop icon automatic installation programs. This allows vendors an easy sell-up opportunity, e.g. “Enjoy advanced XYZ for only $30 more”. Microsoft seems to have adopted a different strategy. Microsoft has a silo product strategy with each version of Office separate from the others. To upgrade from my expired Office 2010 beta 64-bit to the Office trial version (Office Home & Business 2010 64-bit) was an hour long process. I had to uninstall Office 2010 beta via the Windows Control panel (10 – 15 minutes), reboot, download the Office trail version (15 minutes) and install (15 – 20 minutes). Two days later when I acquired the company software subscription I found that it covered an advanced version of Office 2010, Office Professional 2010. The company activation keys did not work with the Office trial version. There was no automatic upgrade method to Office Professional 2010. So once again, over an hour of uninstalling Office 2010, rebooting, downloading and installing.
Again, I’m a fan of the Microsoft Office 2010 suite. I’m a happy user. I just find it confusing that Microsoft is promoting any 32-bit software in a 64-bit world and discouraging upgrades by making them difficult and time consuming.