Office 2010 support with ACT! by Sage #SageACT

For some months, people have been asking about support for Office 2010 in ACT! by Sage with no information or direction from Sage itself.

Up until this point I had assumed that, like with many earlier versions, Sage would provide a patch for the currently available version of ACT!, but that it would be significantly improved with the next major release. Well, this was not the case.

Sage management had left everyone guessing till finally an announcement from Larry Ritter. In brief:

  • There won’t be a patch to provide full Office 2010 support in ACT! by Sage 2010
  • There is a workaround to provide limited support for Outlook 2010 by downloading a preference file from ACT!’s knowledgebase article 26713 - ACT! by Sage Compatibility with Microsoft® Office 2010
  • Sage ACT! 2011 will support Office 2010, but only if installed in 32bit mode

Let me address each of these points in turn:

No patch for ACT! 2010 for full support

There are two possible reasons for Sage’s decision not to provide a patch for users of ACT! 2010.

Either there were significant changes in the new Office version that produced major challenges to incorporate in the current code base, or Sage completely underestimated the faster uptake to Office 2010 compared with Office 2007 and didn’t foresee it would be an issue for enough of its user base.

Whatever the reason, Sage decided it was better value for their R&D dollars to concentrate on ACT! 2011

But why has it taken so long to provide this necessary information?

Limited support via a replacement preferences206.xml file

While I do applaud Sage for at least providing this bandaid fix, there are a few issues I have:

  • It’s important to read the knowledge base article linked above to see that, while it provides limited support for Outlook, it provides no support for Word or Excel integration.
  • Back in June, a user posted to this Sage’s Community site article that he had received XML files for this fix. I contacted several people within Sage to see if I could get some information on the custom XML files, but did not receive a single reply. Seeing as they knew about this fix in June, why did it take so long to post it to a knowledge base article or even make it available to other users in need?
  • When Sage did post the knowledge base article, it only included a fix for the US version of ACT! 2010. Within a couple of hours of being informed how the XML was made, I had provided an AU version to Greig Hollister to update the knowledge base. I see that a Sage Australia Tech Support staff member also took the effort to provide one – their name has removed from this blog at their request not to be associated with any form of communications … but you can see who on Larry’s blog. I found the request to remove their name particularly telling as the problem here is the lack of public communication from Sage as this is what they objected to.
    But so far those are still the only versions posted. Sage needs to realise that this product is used world-wide and either produce the localised versions from their North American office or request each of the regions to provide them in a timely manner. I have also been told that the US version will work for Canadians as long as you rename it to CApreferences206.xml
  • For any users or resellers in the other regions who want to create their own:
    • On a clean OS, install Office 2007 and then ACT! 2010 12.1
    • Open ACT! and set up the Office integration
    • Go to the folder appropriate to your operating system:
      • Windows® XP: C:\Documents and Settings\{User_Name}\Application Data\ACT\ACT for Windows 12)\Preferences
      • Windows Vista® & Windows® 7: C:\Users\{User_Name}\AppData\Roaming\ACT\ACT for Windows 12\Preferences
    • Copy the file XXpreferences206.xml (where XX refers to your country version)
    • This file can then be used as per the knowledge base article linked above with Office 2010


Support for Office 2010 in Sage ACT! 2011

On a 64bit operating system, Office 2010 can be installed in either 32bit or 64bit, but ACT! 2011 will only support Office 2010 in 32bit mode.

I’m not sure of the reasons for this, but it is important to note that many products from Microsoft, Google and others are also limited in their Office 2010 support to 32bit.

I don’t see this as too much of a problem because the only real advantage of operating Office as a 64bit application is if you need to operate on huge (multi-gb) Excel or Word documents.

However, it is something that will be important for Sage and resellers to make users aware of, especially as I would think most pre-installed versions of Office on new systems would have been pre-installed as 64bit.

In Conclusion

While it would have been nice for Sage to have patched ACT! 2010 for full support, there are obviously technical and/or business reasons for their decision not to do this. Certainly it gives justification for users to purchase the maintenance package each year.

What I fail to understand is why it took so long for Sage to inform the user-base of their decision and, more so, to provide the work-around to users caught out by this when they knew about it so long ago.

ACT! is a business tool and its users need timely communication from Sage in order to plan their own business projects. It seems that, since the days under David van Toor and Sam Hunter, ACT!’s management have been communicating in absentia.

What do you think?