When I am advising customers about potential SharePoint to implementation I often hear questions like this one:

Q: Toni, we would like to use SharePoint 2007 but we are still using Office 2003, what should we do?

If you ask our friends at Microsoft the easy answer is: Upgrade to the latest version now!

Bear in mind, that although this is the correct answer will probably encounter many problems along the way. Office is used by end users; they are not IT guys so most of them hate new versions of any program.

In many aspects Office 2007 is superior to Office 2003. It uses new formats, it is easy to use, it gives you numerous new features… It also poses a big problem for an end user. The biggest problem is the new interface (ribbons). End user got used to classic menus so they will hate (will not use properly) new interface for months.

Here are some advices for companies that are going to implement SharePoint 2007:

  • If you are going to implement SharePoint you should also upgrade your current Office to the latest version.
  • There are some 3rd party solutions that can make your Office 2007 look a like Office 2003. I would strongly advise you against these solutions. Old Office is history and your users will face even more problems with Office 2010 if they do not get use to the new interface. Ribbons are becoming standard part of various office suites like MindManager and others. Ribbons are here to stay [:)]
  • Prepare your end users for the upgrade; invest time in educating and supporting end users. Period after migration will be stressful and hard for them so plan some time for learning and adjustments.

In the following posts I will try to explain what are the potential problems is you stick to Office 2003 (or older).

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