back to article Microsoft justifies lost Office 2010 upgrades

Microsoft has briefly explained why it's killed a tried and tested way for loyal consumers to obtain a new edition of Office for a low price. The company is not allowing upgrades to Office 2010, released to retailers on Tuesday, from older versions of its productivity suite. The move means you must get a completely new copy of …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who but a die hard

    Would want to upgrade from a software version only 3 years old?

    Seriously, I suspect that big users will still get discounts on the price through volume or through anexisting Software Assurance deal.

    But it makes sense to have a clean break once in a while.

    Someone will be along shortly to suggest that you could just buy Open Office....

    1. Niyx


      Why would one *buy* open office?

      1. Michael 28

        I would...

        .... if it came with suitable support for these other "proprietary" systems ... what would that cost? Anyone?

      2. Alan W. Rateliff, II
        Paris Hilton


        That is how you buy OpenOffice and get support when needed. Pending Oracle's changes.

        Paris, when needed.

    2. lifeboy

      Serves them right that got Office 2007

      Office 2007 must have been the most frustrating useless version to date. The disfigured menus, complete loss of most previously acquired methods of operation and more has made it the most hated Office yet. And it still can't to letter justification... <sigh> ...pathetic actually.

      And now MS has given another reason to move away from MS Office. As per anonymous coward's suggestion, here it is: Long live Open Office!

      1. Aitor 1


        I do love Office 2007. It is way better that previous versions.

        The only problem is relearning where all the functions are, anoying, but it works really well.

    3. Adam Nealis


      "Seriously, I suspect that big users will still get discounts on the price through volume or through anexisting Software Assurance deal."

      Indeed. At my place of work, we will soon be invited to DL a full copy of Office 10 for free. I don't know if there is an expiry on it. the idea is to get us used to the move next year to a corporate Windows 7 desktop.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Time to cut expenditure on non-essentials

    That is all.

    1. KnucklesTheDog
      Thumb Up


      If children were leaving school with Open Office skills rather than MS Office, it would save employers money too.

  3. Dave_H

    Think of the children

    My children go to a Technology College (AKA Comprehensive School)

    Much of their homework has to be downloaded from the school servers and the completed work submitted back to the servers.

    Of course with the ****** schemes, the schools get the latest software from Microsoft almost immediately and freely. The teachers then save the homework in the latest proprietary format which the children cannot read and then get a fail !!!!

    This is the ONLY reason we have a Windows PC in the house and it is loaded with the Student version of Office 2007. - Even then the teachers sometimes use programs that are not in Office e.g. Publisher - The number of times I've had to go to have words with teachers over this, you would think that they would learn!

    Anyway, the school will update to the latest Office, and all the parents will have to update their copies. Except that there is no upgrade and we will have to pay full (student) price again. I'm thinking of claiming back the money from the LEA - anybody have experience of this?

    1. Ragarath

      What's stopping you...

      From using Open Office. You know it reads and writes those proprietary formats right?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        There are 2 main things stopping you

        Firstly, whilst Open Office can read and write those file formats, it can't always do so whilst exactly preserving the formatting. This might not sound like a big deal, but it almost always is. You can end up with docs that look like they were rendered by Picasso in one of his particularly abstract periods, which of course is no use to your kids at all.

        Second, your kids will be using MS software whilst at school on the school computers, which has a completely different UI to the Open Office they would be using at home. Now obviously kids are pretty adaptable, but it doesn't help to burden them with yet another thing to learn, when really they are supposed to be concentrating on the task at hand.

        Don't get me wrong, I really like Open Office (well, as much as you *can* like an office suite), but this will always be the situation as long as MS are playing cat-and-mouse with the file formats and the UI.

        1. Andy Jones
          Gates Horns

          Completely wrong

          The kids are supposed to be learning about Word Processing and Spreadsheets, not learn how to use Microsoft products. Who cares what the UI looks like. And your kids might be stupid but in general kids pick things up really easily and have the capability of using two UI's.

          You fan boys make me sick. Why do you defend these sorts of things?

        2. Rob Beard
          Gates Horns

          Teaching methods at fault?

          Hmm... I wonder if the teaching methods are at fault?

          Surely the idea is to each Word Processing, Spreadsheets, Databases rather than Word, Excel, and Access?

          That way the user should be able to apply the general knowledge to any Word Processing, Spreadsheet or Database application.


      2. Rob Beard

        Re: What's stopping you...

        OOo doesn't open Publisher files. Nearest I've got to using god awful Publisher files is converting them to PDF using an online service.

        OOo has a PDF import plugin available which isn't too bad (sometimes it works well, other times it doesn't work at all). I've not tried it with a PDF file converted from Publisher (yet) but it's free so if it doesn't work I haven't lost much.

        I agree with the comment about what happens when the kids at home don't have a computer?

        At the moment my kids are in Primary School so they don't have this problem, but when they get to secondary, if they have a requirement to use proprietary software and give my kids a fail mark I'll kick up a stink. When I was at school we had a variety of different software (MS Word, Wordstar, Wordperfect, Excel, Lotus 123 etc) and it didn't matter what package we used as long as we provided a reasonable printed output.

        Does anyone know if Office 2010 can save in Office 4.3, 95 or 97 formats? At least that way those of us not using Office 2010 have a half decent chance of opening the files in something else.


    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Schools and Computers

      What if a parent doesn't have a computer at home?

      What if the parent doesn't have Internet to download the homework from the servers?

      Does the child get an automatic fail?

    3. Niyx


      You realise Office 2007 was available for £30 for students with email addresses and Office 2010 probably won't be any different come September 2010.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Freedom; Is it worth teaching?

      I think you are in an excellent position to make a stand. It's not all about the costs. It's about the freedom that is being trampled.

      Your response got me thinking. And if I was in your position I seriously would go to the teacher and explain a little bit about software freedom. And after that demand that the templates that the children have to use are in ODF. Or that there are two versions, so people have a choice.

      This can be morally (1) and economically (2) justified.

      1) FLOSS is about sharing knowledge. Just as a school is too. A long time ago we all decided it would be a good idea to have public education. A level of basic knowledge shared with everyone in society. This was all done to offer children the same chances, independent of their parents financial situation, color of skin or religion. Proprietary software, hinders you to learn from the software. You are teaching children that they are not allowed to know some things. That way you prevent them from taking the software apart and learn from it (as a kid I used to void warranties a lot and that led me to becoming an electrical engineer). So offering ODF as an option, creates a level playing field. It offers a moral choice to the parents. Do I want to teach my children about freedom or following other people's choices?

      2) A public school receives public funding. Which means our tax money. If they can save costs, then they are obliged to the community and themselves to do so. Furthermore if they really want to use Office, than you should get a gratis copy. Why should you make costs because they made a choice? Even a choice which you do not support!? Next to that, like KnucklesTheDog said, having knowledge about or FLOSS will save society as a whole money in the end. And will give your children the ability to perform a task in more than one way and choose the right tool for it. This is an ability that will make your kids more of value to future employers.

      This practice of "hooking them when they are young" reminds me of drug dealers. And we all are addicted to proprietary software. It's time to go to rehab.

      You are at the front of the battle ground. This discussion is only for a small part about money, but mostly about the principle that knowledge should be shared freely. The whole idea behind F/LOSS is freedom. The freedom to share knowledge. Once a revolutionary idea when we started public schools and we all know how that worked out. The same thing is already happening for software.

      I can only implore you to at least try to get this point across. If you truly believe in freedom, trying to get this point across is a duty that you must not fail to act upon.

  4. Notas Badoff

    When royalties and loyalties collide

    After the past shock transitioning to 2007, or simply the shock at seeing what that would take, so many people will be looking for a reason _not_ to, um, upgrade to 2010. And thankfully Microsoft has given its serfs^w customers the perfect excuse not to upgrade. How nice of them to forgo the business.

    Well, until it begins to hurt them. Then they'll make it available again as some renamed thing, incremental post-install version enhancement? Calendrical bump? I guess they survived the vista-gets-fista - seven-is-leaven trial so well, they figured they'd try the limits of loyalty again?

  5. Annihilator
    Thumb Down


    "The key card is priced less than the full boxed product of Office 2010 and it contains a 25-character code that activates your copy of Office 2010. You can only use the key card to activate Office 2010 on a single PC."

    Any clue as to how it does this? Is it a one-time code? Is it implying that a buggered hard disk will result in buying a new copy of Office? A swift "no, thanks" will be offered to them from me.

    1. Steven Knox


      How does it work now with Office 2003 or higher, Windows XP or higher, etc?

      This isn't new technology; the only major difference here is that the key isn't bundled with a disc.

      Clue. Now you has one.

    2. Justin Pasher
      Gates Horns

      Re: Once

      "Any clue as to how it does this? Is it a one-time code? Is it implying that a buggered hard disk will result in buying a new copy of Office? A swift "no, thanks" will be offered to them from me."

      Make sure you read their new EULA very carefully. The "key card" method of purchase is very similar to an OEM license.

      Page 17, Section 3 (Product Key Card Terms), subsection 2a

      "a. One Copy per Device. The software license is permanently assigned to the device on which the software is initially activated. That device is the “licensed device.”"

      In the past, Microsoft as defined a "device" as being the core component (i.e. the motherboard), meaning that when the motherboard dies or is swapped out, the device no longer exists, and your license is no longer valid. This is why the key card version of the software is cheaper.

  6. Ed Blackshaw Silver badge


    "Microsoft's new, low-priced Office option is the Product Key Card - only you'll either need a brand new PC to obtain one or buy Office as a download, and then it'll still be a full copy of Office 2010."

    So, it's a bit of card with a licence key on it then? I'm pretty sure I got one of those with Office '97, I'd just need to cut away the rest of the box.

  7. David Webb
    Gates Halo


    I upgraded from 2007 to 2010 yesterday, for free. They had an offer where anyone who purchased Office 2007 could upgrade to 2010 for free so I got mine through the Ultimate Steal (£39) and now have 2010, Ultimate Steal having gone up to £49 now.

    Loving 2010.

    1. Stephen Bungay
      Paris Hilton

      Umm... Free?

      Thirty nine pounds is NOT "free".

      1. Saigua

        They make it up in volume!

        Key Card with 32GB SD flash free, we shall say!

        Backs y' key workers up, too; discounting the full-resolution archive.

    2. Ascylto

      The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

      £39 is 'Free' eh?

      A bit like 'Unlimited' use of ... (subject to Fair Use Policy) which is NOT Unlimited.

      Oh, pity, pity the English language.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Technet Plus

    Everyone should join, it's marv. You simply cannot evaluate enough software ;-)

    Other alternatives are the student/family deals. Or OoO, Symphony, Star Office, etc.

  9. bobbdobbs

    who cares

    you could try Open office.

    Though whats the big deal, if you want the latest buy it if youve got Office 2007 its still no big deal to stay and use it.

  10. lifeboy
    Gates Horns

    Serves them right that got Office 2007

    Office 2007 must have been the most frustrating useless version to date. The disfigured menus, complete loss of most previously acquired methods of operation and more has made it the most hated Office yet. And it still can't to letter justification... <sigh> ...pathetic actually.

    And now MS has given another reason to move away from MS Office. As per anonymous coward's suggestion, here it is: Long live Open Office!

  11. andy gibson

    @ Dave_H

    You should ask your child's school if they are on the Microsoft Schools Agreement. That way you can get the *full* version of Office for a much lower price than the piddling "Student Edition".

    IIRC Office 2010 Professional is just £55, whereas the student version is £99 in most stores.

    But schools certainly do not get "the latest software from Microsoft almost immediately and freely", they pay a hefty annual subscription.

    1. Tom 13

      If they are, they need to get better organized and fight for the same rights as schools in the US.

      I purchased MS wares for a 501(c)3 here in the US, and the cost compared to retail was a pittance.

  12. Snark
    Gates Horns

    @Dave_H - educational discounts

    Have a look at "software4students" which sell full professional editions of the MS software under the educational discounts scheme (not the crippled shop student editions). If your children are in full time education it's relatively painless to find their school or have it added without the rigmarole of student ID's, etc. Currently a 2 user (for the use of the child) edition of Office 2010 pro is £48 + postage.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    @andy gibson and Snark

    So you are advising Dave_H to pay pay out more money and also commit to the expense of maintaining a Windows box due to someone else's actions?

    Steve Ballmer must love you!

    1. Ammaross Danan


      Saying they only have a windows box for the schoolwork is almost screaming they run an "alternative OS," for which I'm sure OpenOffice is more than happy to run on. I used it all through the whole Office2003 -> 07 snafu with file-format issues, and it worked just fine reading those "new" 07 formats that the instituation pushes out. Fortunately the 2010 update is merely incremental, even for the file format, and should not be an issue.

      Therefore, the "cost and burden" of maintaining a Windows PC simply to run Office is a load of bullocks. Pull your Mac/*nix out and stuff OpenOffice on it if you simply can't stomach MS Office's price. Perhaps you just don't want your child to be trouncing around in your shiney toy perhaps?

    2. Snark

      Re: @andy gibson and Snark

      Actually no, I was trying to be helpful and let people know alternatives they may not know about as they aren't widely publicised, and so maybe save themselves from the extra money people may spend buying the "Student" edition and actually getting less, especially as it makes up for the lack of "upgrade" version if you were thinking of going down that route.

      That was the kind of thanks I was expecting though ;-)

    3. Mark 65

      Open formats

      Hopefully when/if the Government starts to get it's arse in gear on this subject all tax-payer funded entities will have to adhere to open unencumbered standards such as the open document format (caveat that they have a GBP160bn per annum hole to fill first).

      I would also add that if a school requires students to return coursework using any particular piece of software then they are (or should be) under an obligation to provide it. It might then make their choices a touch more sensible.

  14. Stevie


    He's quite right - old versions of Outlook won't initialize properly on 64 bit Windows 7.

    Which is why I now use the slightly more annoying (to me) Thunderbird to do the same job. I'm not buying office software over and over again.

    After all, it's only software, not air, food or water.

  15. gerryg

    Has anyone taken a look at KOffice recently?

    They've not been promoting it for end-users until now (version 2.2)

    It's been written from the bottom up and (Windows users aside) has got a tiny footprint compared to OOo.

    Disclaimer: it reads proprietary but only writes ODF/PDF. There's nothing stopping the interested from writing an OOXML output filter, even though no-one uses it.

  16. 46Bit


    I was pushed into trying Open Office because I lost my M$ Office product key and got no response when trying to replace it. Never really looked back.

  17. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

    Ha - who needs it?

    I switched to Mac (at least), but bought a copy of MS Office just in case I had clients who lack the skillsto evaluate the different. I've not used MS Office at all - eithe OpenOffice or iWorks doe the job perfectly well.

    So I'm OK with the lack of upgrade - it's not a product I need at all..

    Funny how MS is drifting into a very large version of irrelevance..

  18. Barry Rueger
    Thumb Up

    2007? I like it!

    My first reaction to MS Office 2007 was ACK! Within a day or two though I actually came to really like the "ribbon." For me it just works fine.

    Wish I could say the same about Windows 7, which steadfastly insists on changing my keyboard to French (usually in the middle of a sentence), and on which, apparently, it is now impossible to fix the NumLock key into a permanent ON position.

    As far as Office pricing, I assumed that everyone knows enough to track down a student priced copy for well under $100. Last time I did so I found it on who neglected ask to actually see my student card.

  19. Anonymous Coward

    per device?


    A stonking big xen server and RDP to Windows installs. That would be XP, just to rub it in. That would serve them right!

    On the other hand, nah, just forget it. I'd still rather just run ltsp and openoffice.

  20. Simon2
    Gates Horns

    Still use Office 2003

    I still use office 2003 on my own desktop/laptop PCs and am perfectly happy with it. I don't like the stupid ribbon interface.

    As long as files arn't saved in ***x format on other computers with 2007 installed, it works fine.

  21. Herby

    £49 for 25 characters

    Almost £2 per characters. Sounds like a bargain to me. Of course the alternative of using Open Office is much cheaper. I believe that you can get a whole bunch of characters for MUCH less.

    p.s. Can I have the concession for characters. Looks like I could make a quid or two. Just for instance:


    I'd like to get £48 on sale now!

  22. Peter 39

    justify? Really - justify??

    Microsoft has for many years done a very bad job of justification in their products.

    I see no evidence that their performance lately has improved.

    Word does as lousy a job as it did before. Justification not good - upgrade not justified

  23. Peter 39

    since March 5, 2010

    @David Webb

    Yes David - it's free. IFF you purchased since March 5 2010.

    You neglected to mention that very significant fact in your troll. It is NOT anyone who purchased Office 2007, it's anyone who "purchased, installed, and activated a qualifying Microsoft Office 2007 product between March 5, 2010, and September 30, 2010" (text copied from

    Troll on ...

  24. Shane Menshik


    Office is crap - Google Docs, or Open Office easily work for 90% of people out there.. Office 2010 - worthelss.. just like 2007..

  25. Change can be good

    Save Money!

    OpenOffice, Google Docs and Zoho are great alternatives that are free!

    It is like getting a FREE COMPUTER by using one of these alternatives because of the money you can save. This is because a boxed version of Office 2010 Professional is around $499!!

  26. multipharious

    don't forget the Visio facelift

    OpenOffice and StarOffice? I cannot send things to customers that might have display issues. As a content consumer, you may understand the display issues, but as a content provider I cannot afford it. I have been using the 2010 Professional beta both at home and work for around a year now (forget when it was made available) and even better: the new Visio. When you have to slam together a network diagram and make it look good you need Visio.

    Outlook 2010 can only be experienced by using it in production. For someone that needs to keep a lot of appointments and conversations straight without spending a ton of time, you will like Outlook 2010. You get an invite, and a snippet of your Calendar is displayed in the email so you know immediately if you are free or busy or what needs to be moved. Conversations are intelligently grouped. The couple seconds it saves you here and there begin to add up, and the extra productivity translates into a [insert what you do with extra time here.]

    I could keep going on about the why and the various improvements Just test it yourself. You will be sorry you missed the year long beta.

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge
      Gates Horns

      Ah, now THAT's what I liked about moving to OS X

      I found Omnigraffle to be several miles better than Visio, and as it reads/writes Visio files I can do things better.

      I moved off Windows because it started to piss me off, but Linux didn't cover my needs (complex reasons, and I've been using various shaded of Linux since Slackware came on floppies). So I got a Macbook, which runs WinXP and Kubuntu under Paralles, and then I discovered Omnigraffle.

      That alone was almost worth changing to Mac for (there's a lot more). I'm not a fanatic (not my nature), but I've certainly become a fan - I don't care who owns it and what they wear, I need to get work done. With a Mac it's a matter of opening the laptop and working (also long battery life). *That* has value for m - that is worth paying for.

      Back to topic: I bought iWorks, installed OpenOffice (tried NeoOffice, but I guess I got too used to "native" OOo) and also installed a "home user" copy of MS Office (main difference apart from price is that Entourage -OS X idea of Outlook replacement- won't talk "Exchange" to anything).

      To date I have used MS Word exactly once, and that was by accident. The ONLY thing MS Office offers that has no equal yet is Outlook. Buggy and crap as it can be at times, it IS a mature product, and there is no replacement I have seen that comes close to it, on any platform. I reckon that's where MS spends its money - it is the one barbed hook into the average business user that is impossible to undo. The moment MS loses that monopoly, MS Office will effectively be history.

      Not Powerpoint (ugh), not Word, not Excel, not it's-not-a-standard-but-we-sell-it-as-if-it-is OOXML format, no, Outlook. Think about it.

  27. Mikel

    I've gone over the changelog

    There's not one feature that would make me want to upgrade. Not in this version, not in the prior one, or any of the others since Office 95. Even then I was beginning to suspect stagnation because the feature wars were over. If in 15 years they can't come up with a compelling reason to upgrade from that, it might be time to look at Open Office and the others.

    I've had a look. It turns out that the science of putting glyphs on a page is well settled, and while WYSIWYG is way cool and all, for professional printing nothing beats the LaTEX., and for cross platform document production XML is where it's at. All the various document preparation suites do, well, prepare documents in the same ways we did thirty years ago. The spreadsheets do in fact calculate fields based on the contents of other fields in an array and offer methods of computation that normal people don't need to four sigmas - as they have since I was in high school two and a half decades ago.

    The slideshow apps do, well, present slides and make the audience dumber thereby, using the exact same methods I used 25 years ago. It's a tool and we've reached the evolution of this tool to the point where the limit of what the tool can achieve is limited by the quality of movement of the handle end. Now they support video. That's cool. Let me know when you decide to use that. They support every other content mechanism and attachment method in existence too - and that's why Office gets more patches than Windows, and why it's the best vehicle for targeted exploitation. At this point there's no legitimate use for most of these, yet they persist in Office. Let me pick on one: VRML. This war is over. VRML is dead. Nobody is going to send you a VRML document. And yet the VRML interface affords at least 32 methods of exploitation that could completely compromise your computer - in Office 2010. VRML is only one of many hundreds of abandoned formats that evil people could use through office to own your computer.

    At this point Microsoft Office is a swarm of productivity components flying in close formation. Although each of them has vulnerabilities, you don't get the full remote-manageability from any anonymous user on the Internet capability until you have the full suite.

    What I'm wondering is: why is that feature worth paying money for? Somebody here educate me please.

  28. Tom 7


    stop whinging - just go out and get on of these £48 educational discount versions of office.

    oh and several £100 for a pc that can actually run the bloated piece of crap on. An I guess you'll have to pay for some training so you can help your kids as well - and its probably illegal for you to use the software you got from the school that will be only for your kids use unless you are still a student - pay a few thousand to a lawyer to check that one for you just in case. You might be able to run your copy on the same pc so you'll have to learn how to dual boot as well,

    Its easy - just a couple of months take home so your kids can actually enjoy the education you've already paid for. Nothing to complain about there that I can see.

  29. James Pickett


    "You will be sorry you missed the year long beta"

    Somehow I doubt it. Outside life has so many more interesting things to offer.

    FWIW, my 12-year old uses Google Docs for his homework.

  30. Anonymous Coward

    My life is worthless

    All I have left is to complain about a shitty and corrupt corporation, that produces expensive piecemeal product that is fragmented into 10 different versions, and they run their customer cultivation campaign like a pedophile ring - by targeting children via their parents, through the school grounds.

    Hmmmmmmm fuck them, their prices and the repackaged upgrade hype - where the only real upgrade is the new wrapping paper.

    As far as I go, I'll keep using 0ffice 2000, and XP - which is the last upgrade I will ever do with Microsoft.

    Everything else is Linux, Open Orrifice, Google docks, etc.

    Open Office - has a brilliant drawing pakage, but the lack of embedding ones own font's into one's own documents, is total bullshit.

    It only goes to prove that Microsoft are not the only ones doing particularly stupid ideas.

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