July 17, 2012, 8:59 PM — Microsoft confirmed yesterday that the new Office 2103 will not run on older PCs powered by Windows XP or Vista.
"The new Office will work with Windows 7 and Windows 8," a Microsoft spokesperson said Monday in an email reply to questions about Office 2013 and Office 365. "Vista or XP will not support the new Office."
Users running those operating systems will not be able to advance beyond Office 2010, the suite that launched about seven months after Windows 7.
The omission of the two operating systems means that more than half of all Windows computers -- 54.6%, to be exact -- now in place will be locked out of the upgrade, according to statistics compiled by Web metrics company Net Applications.
Windows 7 does not yet have a majority of all Windows PCs: In June, it powered 45.1% of all PCs that went online, said Net Applications. Windows 8, which has not been released except in preview formats, accounted for just 0.2% of all copies of Windows.
But those shares are moving targets, and will be different come the release date of Office 2013 and the various Office 365 subscription programs. It's difficult to project how much more share Windows 7 and Windows 8 will have then, since uptake on Windows 8 would be a blind guess, and no one knows whether Windows 8's gains will come from former XP or Vista users, or from people moving up one edition from Windows 7.
One projection is possible, however: Absent any Windows 8 impact -- unlikely, of course -- Windows 7 will edge upward to 54.9% of all Windows PCs by February 2013, one of the several release dates that has been bandied about.
"It makes sense for them to do this, what with the end of life for XP approaching," said Alan Krans, an analyst with Technology Business Research.
As Krans noted, it's no surprise that Microsoft excluded Windows XP from the supported OS list. Windows XP is due for retirement in April 2014, when Microsoft stops serving the 11-year-old operating system with security updates.
"Those people are due for an upgrade [to a new operating system] anyway, but it is a nudge to push people to Windows 8," acknowledged Krans. "Microsoft is imposing that line in the sand where users running software a couple of generations old need to upgrade."
Microsoft has said that XP users will be able to upgrade to Windows 8, assuming that their hardware passes the eligibility test.
Krans pointed that out as well. "A lot of upgrades will go straight from XP to Windows 8," he said, referring to the possibility of those users buying into Office 2013 once they've upgraded to the new OS.