More Office 2013 bait-and-switch revelations

Before upgrading to Office 2013, take a close look -- you may lose more than expected, specifically the PowerPivot BI tool that was free in Excel 2010

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That's supposed to make Office 2013 upgrade stuckees feel better, although it isn't clear to me why.

The people who are yelling the loudest about Office 2013, though, aren't the ones who got trapped by misrepresented upgrades. The most fury I've seen comes from people who are active users of an Excel 2010 feature called PowerPivot. If you ask "Mr. Excel" Bill Jelen, he'll tell you:

PowerPivot is the best new feature to hit Excel in 20 years... Using the free PowerPivot add-in, you can create pivot tables from data on sheet1 mashed up with sheet2, without doing any VLOOKUPs. You can import 100 million rows from Oracle and mash it up with some web data... and do things that are impossible in regular pivot tables.

In short, PowerPivot is a free business intelligence tool that an experienced Excel fiend can use to turn workbooks into sophisticated, robust data collating and analysis programs.

At least, PowerPivot was free. If you run any version of Excel 2010, it's free. But if you want it in Excel 2013, you have to pay for Office 2013 Pro Plus -- which is only available in volume licenses or bundled with Office 365 Pro Plus. Office 2013 Pro Plus isn't even available in Office 365 Home Premium or Office 365 Small Business Premium.

Yes, you got that right. If you want PowerPivot, you can't go down to your local Best Buy and buy it -- for any price. And if you upgrade from any version of Office 2010 to any version of Offiice 2013, you lose PowerPivot in the process. Period.

Excel guru Rob Collie has an excellent overview of the problem, its causes, and its (very few) solutions in a brilliant article called "Hey, Who Moved My (PowerPivot 2013) Cheese?" Collie -- who used to work on the Excel dev team -- blames the insanity on Access. Yes, I know it's a bit convoluted, but he has a point: Microsoft has been hard-pressed to find features that differentiate the various versions of Office. Access used to be the major differentiator between Office Standard and Office Professional, but there are fewer and fewer individuals and companies willing to bump up to the next level of Office, just to get Access.

Thus, argues Collie, Microsoft is stretching harder and harder to find features that differentiate its lavishly more expensive versions. Somehow, PowerPivot missed the Office 2010 sluice gate, but got hung up in Office 2013. 

Collie calls it "a bad idea" and invites Microsoft customers to leave comments on his blog, asking Microsoft to reconsider its decision.

I think of it as another example of Office 2013 bait and switch.

This story, "More Office 2013 bait-and-switch revelations," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow on Twitter.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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