The Joys of being a late Office adopter

Better to stick with a stable, known Microsoft Office instead of monthly updates with new and changed features.  That rational customer approach isn’t understood at Microsoft who push the regular Office 365 changes on the assumption that’s a universal good which suits all customers.

Brian X Chen in The New York Times has a thoughtful article ‘The Joys of being a late tech adopter” extolling the virtues of sitting back and waiting for a more developed product.

At we’ve long recommended a similar approach to Microsoft Office. Quite often new Office features don’t work well or lack important tweaks that make the feature truly usable.

A recent example is the addition of Icons. Initially Icons was just a list of graphics to choose and insert into documents.  It worked but not very well.  There were long lists of icons, sure, but finding one that suited was difficult.  It took more than two years before the essential Icon search option was added.  Even now, the interface lacks features, like visible keywords, zoom/expanded preview.

Microsoft sees this rolling development of Office as a good thing …. because it’s better for the company. Releasing a ‘half-baked’ feature, then fixing it, gives Microsoft more opportunities to promote the software and make themselves feel more important.  Each little change means another round of self-serving blog posts and unquestioning articles from the media.

Customers prefer stability

What Microsoft knows, but chooses to ignore, is that many customers want a stable, unchanging Microsoft Office.

For this significant group of corporate and consumer Office users, new and changing features are NOT an advantage.  For them each ‘new’ Office 365 announcement is a reason NOT to switch from Office 2013/2016 or Office 2019.

Stick with what you know

There are good reasons to stick with an existing Microsoft Office version and resisting Microsoft’s pushy promotion of Office 365 annual payments.

A big DISadvantage of Office 365 is the monthly changes to the software.  That constant revision of Office software doesn’t suit everyone.

Office 365 consumers don’t get much choice about updates.  They have to accept monthly updates or disable updates entirely.   At least Office 365 corporate admins get the option of six-monthly updates.

A better Office 365 plan

If Microsoft truly wants to ‘kill’ perpetual licence Office (Office 2019) they should offer an Office 365 plan with fixed software.  Give Office 365 customers the option to join corporate users on a six-monthly update (Semi-Annual Channel).  Even better would be an annual Office software update option with only security/bug fixes each month.

Or a new Office 365 plan with fixed software.  Office 365 ‘Basic’ could deliver Office 2019 plus other standard Office 365 benefits like OneDrive storage and Skype minutes.

That would give customers the software stability they crave plus some of the benefits of Office 365.