Help, Help, It's Tax Season and I'm Being Upgraded!

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Note: This e-mail represents a combination of approximately three e-mails I have received in the last two months. I have taken some editorial license with the facts here to bring out some additional points

Dear Brian

I have just ordered 3 new laptops and without even thinking purchased Office 2007. We have 13 machines, a mixture of desktops & laptops in our office and only the 3 new ones will have Office 2007. Am I going to have backward compatibility issues? I really do not want to upgrade everyone in the middle of tax season. Your thoughts would be very much welcome.

Thanks,

Rhonda in Rockwood

Dear Rhonda in Rockwood:

Good to hear from you again. I hope you and your team are well.

The biggest issue with adopting MS Office 2007 on short notice is going to be MS Access (as usual - just because there is so much structure created by the user in this application). I'd stay away from Access 2K7 if you're doing much with Access – simply because it has a new file format, and because of the nature of the automation in Access, it will be the application most likely to have “issues” with a new file format. If you're really concerned about it, considered uninstalling the OEM edition of MS O2K7 and installing O2K3 from your MS Action Pack (assuming you have enough licenses?) This would let you completely avoid the issue until after tax season.

If you decide to go with O2K7, it shouldn't be that big of an issue. With a few add-ins, you should actually be able to get by with half on the old version and half on the new version. Here's what I would do:

1. Download the Office 2007 compatibility pack from the MS Site, and put it on all of the non-Office 2007 PC's. This should eliminate 99% of the incompatibilities between the Office 2003 and the Office 2007 PC's. [you should do this whether or not you use O2K7 on the new PC's] Link to the download is here: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=941b3470-3ae9-4aee-8f43-c6bb74cd1466&displaylang=en

2. On the O2K7 machines, install the PSchmid.net Ribbon Customizer. This gives you the old O2K3 dropdown menus in O2K7 for free for 30 days, and you can then buy it for $30/workstation (e.g. $90) right after the 30 days is up (and after the cash starts rolling in next month). The download is at http://www.pschmid.net/office2007/ribboncustomizer/starter.php

Highly recommended - it saved the sheetrock in my office.

3. Install the "Save as PDF or XPS" extensions for O2K7 on the "new" PC's with Office 2007. This will let them save the Word, Excel, and Powerpoint files as Acrobat files (e.g. PDF). Free from Microsoft.com - http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=4d951911-3e7e-4ae6-b059-a2e79ed87041&DisplayLang=en

4. There are some interactive flash reference apps which let you click on the old command in the drop-down menus and shows you the command in the new menu structure (e.g. the ribbon). They are at:

+ Word:http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=9044790b-4e24-4277-b714-66d7b18d0aa1&DisplayLang=en
+ Excel: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=89718abd-2758-47b3-9f90-93788112b985&DisplayLang=en
+ PowerPoint: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=bef41dc3-8e28-4282-82d4-cec2f416cd40&DisplayLang=en
+ Outlook: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=cc37cc1e-028d-4d30-9093-96cc6513eca1&DisplayLang=en
+ Access: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=b9574c72-657f-438c-9de9-f8f70dd2d40d&DisplayLang=en

I love O2K7, and have been using it for a couple of years – and am looking forward to being able to teach it in classes instead of O2K3 – however, I would approach any unplanned last-minute conversion with a healthy amount of concern.

Best regards, Brian (from NYC)

Brian Tankersley, CPA.CITP is an independent consultant and is an associate with K2 Enterprises. He can be reached at brian@k2e.com. Brian also blogs at http://blog.bftcpa.com.

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