By Steve McEvoy, Technology Consultant
Almost every orthodontic practice has some version of Microsoft Office installed on one or more computers, and it’s very likely you do too.
Just like the Windows Operating System, Microsoft only provides patches and support for products for a limited amount of time. Remember the Windows XP end of life hub-bub from a few years ago? Well, this is the same thing with a different product.
If you use any version of Microsoft Office 2007, the extended support cycle ended on October 10th, 2017 (read the official notice here). This means Microsoft will no longer release security updates or patches for it. This means if some huge security vulnerability is found that might allow a hacker some form of control, they won’t be patching the hole and the only option will be to replace the software.
This is planned obsolescence. Microsoft desperately wants to convince you to retire your really old versions and upgrade to the newest. Of course, this comes at a cost. Will your old version stop working? No, it will run fine just has it always has, the only thing that stops is any form of patch or update.
You likely will see notices from practice management companies that rely on Microsoft Office as part of their requirements that they will no longer support systems that still have Office 2007 installed. Why? Because it’s a liability for them, and even they want you to upgrade to the latest version of Microsoft Office.
What does this mean practically? Well, in my opinion, this is a 10+-year-old piece of software. It’s now out of support. It won’t work on Windows 10. My advice would be to keep it in place on your old PCs until you replace the entire PC (because that PC is probably really old too) and buy a new version of Office at that time. If your practice management company makes a fuss about replacing it, I would acquiesce and purchase the new version rather than fighting it.
What would an upgrade cost? There is no ‘upgrade’ price for Microsoft Office. You are stuck buying either their retail version, or a version that may be available with your new PC, or perhaps even their cloud version called Office 365 that allows you to install a local version on your computer. Generally, they all work out to be about the same price – roughly $200 per PC.