Small Business Helpdesk

Tips & Hints

Upgrading your office software

6 June 2001

The hype is on. The new Microsoft Office suite, Office XP, has been released and you will be hearing in the next few weeks why you can't run a business without it. But is it really necessary to have the latest software package?

Aside from the rule that you should never buy the first release of a software package, the short answer is no. The cost of buying the software, upgrading your computers and the effort involved in learning the new program is very high. If your current software is working fine and meets your needs then leave it alone.

Generally it is only necessary to upgrade when there have been major changes to the software or your requirements. For instance there was a very good reason (the arrival of Windows 95) for upgrading from Office 4.3 to Office 95, there are few reasons to upgrade from Office 2000 to XP. A good rule of thumb is to upgrade every two versions or five years.

Five years is about the life you can expect from your desktop computers and updating your software is best done as part of an overall upgrade to all your systems. Purchasing your software as part of a new package is usually cheaper and the software will come already installed on the computer. Upgrading your computers is always disruptive so updating everything at once reduces the downtime.

Never upgrade your office computers just because it seems a good idea to do so. Look at your needs carefully first and then what the new software can do that the current programs can't. What you spend on your business computers is an investment, not a cost, so you should plan for and expect a decent return on your IT investment.

PC Rescue Pty Ltd
Suite 236, 4 Young Street Neutral Bay NSW 2089
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