Last month saw the release of the latest version of Microsoft’s ubiquitous Office suite for Windows, named version 2016. It brings new features and a design more in line with that of versions of Office released for iOS and Android. Many students beginning their studies this month will arrive at university with this version of Excel on their computers.
This is not a concern for users of the most specialist financial databases at The University of Manchester Library as the databases are installed on cluster PCs which will remain on Windows 7 with Office 2010; it may become a matter of concern for those at other institutions who are responsible for PC updates in the coming months.
I have run a few tests installing Thomson Reuters Datastream Advance for Office, Capital IQ Office Plug-in and Thomson Reuters Spreadsheet Link on Windows 7 and Windows 10 systems with Office 2016, specifically to check if their Excel add-ins work correctly. (I was not able to test Bloomberg due to its more limited restrictions.)
Datastream in Excel 2010: The version of Datastream that is most used at The University of Manchester is Datastream Advance for Office (DAO), officially supported by Office 2007 and 2010 32-bit versions and no newer. (There is a version for 64-bit Office which I have not tested, called Datastream for Office (DFO), and a Datastream charting add-in, also not tested.)
Datastream in Excel 2013: Although Office 2013 is not officially supported for DAO, I managed to install it on a Windows 10 32-bit tablet and got a Request Table to work. (Tip: save the Request Table document the first time it asks you to, otherwise you will get into trouble with macro-enabled filetypes later.) I have seen the previous version of DAO, designed for Office 2003, working with Office 2013 32-bit on Windows 8.1 64-bit (sorry, screen shot not available).
Datastream in Excel 2016: Although Office 2016 is also not officially supported for DAO, I managed to install it on a Windows 7 32-bit PC and got a Request Table to work. I could not install it on a Windows 10 64-bit PC, using Office 2010 or Office 2016; it gave error messages such as “Compile error in hidden module: AFOHelp”.
In summary: Datastream works for me in Office 2016 with Windows 7 32-bit and possibly in some other situations but more testing is required.
I had a mixed but unsuccessful experience using the Capital IQ Office Plug-in. On a Windows 10 PC where I had already installed the software to use with Office 2010, running the Excel add-in on Excel 2016 would let me load the Capital IQ ribbon tab, access the template library, but it would not download any real data. I tried the usual troubleshooting methods but could not get the data to work.
When I tried to install Capital IQ Office Plug-in on Windows 7 where Office 2016 was installed, I got an error message that I could not work around: “Unsupported Office Version”. I guess Office 2016 is too far ahead of Office 2003 for it to recognise, even though I had Office 2010 installed as well.
I have not tried to contact their help desk yet; perhaps there will be a newer version released to address this. I am hopeful for this with Capital IQ; there will not be an update for either of these Thomson Reuters products tested today.
Thomson Reuters Spreadsheet Link
Unfortunately I was unable to run Thomson Reuters Spreadsheet Link (TRSL) in Office 2016. It is not officially supported in anything newer than Office 2010 so I was not expecting it to start working again in Office 2016, but running on the Windows 10 PC Office 2010 showed part of the Excel add-in loading; perhaps it had worked on that same PC a few months earlier.
Many of the archive specialist database platforms that researchers use are dependent on old and ageing pieces of software. It is asking a lot to expect software written over five years ago to continue working in successive releases of the Windows operating system, and an even harder challenge to make it work within multiple Office environments on each of those platforms. Sometimes these old applications would require major redevelopment to work, sometimes just a tiny tweak. If that tiny tweak requires a disbanded team and development environment to be resurrected, it’s just as unlikely to be fixed as a major job. Sadly, the Thomson Reuters Excel add-ins fall into one of these categories. We will have to wait until Eikon is ready for wider use in education, hopefully before the Windows 7 operating system reaches the end of its life for receiving security updates in January 2020.
The newly released Windows 10 is a currently a free upgrade from Windows 7 and Windows 8.x. It claims to “transform the way you work and play” amongst other things. It also marks the launch of a new web browser Microsoft Edge, replacing the 20-year old Internet Explorer (IE). Edge is a great move forward for web developers and hopefully will be preferred by end users but, as always, change comes at a cost; the many legacy web-based platforms that were built for IE 6 or later may not work. Fortunately, IE 11 is still available for the sake of compatibility, but is using Windows 10 and multiple web browsers a smooth ride?
How compatible are our business databases with Windows 10?
Some of the specialist financial and business databases that The University of Manchester subscribes to have been tested below.
Not compatible with Microsoft Edge:
These two reputable products are widely used but they are built on old technology (old by web development standards). They were already limited to work on Internet Explorer only in Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8 and 8.1.
ThomsonONE.com shows a blank screen if loaded in Microsoft Edge.
Thomson Research will load but some of the dialog windows do not work in Microsoft Edge.
Solution: Click in the new Search box next to the Start button (bottom left of the screen), type “Internet Explorer” and open the old browser. From here, go to the Library website and find ThomsonONE.com in the usual way. (Note, if you try the option to “Open with Internet Explorer” from within Edge may not work for this website.)
Compatible with Microsoft Edge:
So far, I have found that all out other web-based specialist databases are compatible with Microsoft Edge.
Please comment below this post if you find otherwise! I will update this post as necessary.
A later post on Business Research Plus will explore databases that use Microsoft Office 2016 and Windows 10.