This morning Eric Ruud, Managing Director, Thomson Reuters Elite, sent out this message to all the company’s Elite Enterprise sites…

“I am writing today to provide you with some important information regarding the future of the Enterprise platform, which has led the industry for more than two decades.

“Thomson Reuters Elite’s Enterprise platform is over 25 years old and has aged to the point that it is no longer feasible to maintain compatibility with new technology indefinitely. In addition, Microsoft has previously announced the end-of-support timetable for a number of related technologies, such as Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows Server 2012 R2. Understandably, this has necessitated that we put into place a robust plan to ensure an effective and successful progression for our customers currently using the Enterprise platform.

“In that context, we wanted to let you know that the next release of Enterprise (version 3.11, scheduled for Q2 2016) will be the last packaged enhancement release for this platform. In line with Microsoft’s previously announced timetable, bug fixes for all supported versions of Enterprise will end by December 31, 2022. Elite will continue to provide responsive phone and portal support for all versions of Enterprise to help our clients successfully run their businesses while planning their progression.

“This timetable effectively gives you up to seven years to plan and implement a transition from Enterprise, depending on which version of Enterprise and which Microsoft platform you are running.

“We understand that you likely have a number of questions about this transition and how it will impact your business. To learn more about our plans for Enterprise, we hope that you are able to join us for a special 30-minute webinar at one of the times listed below, during which our executive leadership team will outline the progression timetable for Enterprise in greater detail. This webinar is also an opportunity to learn more about the resources, tools and support channels which have been created to guide and equip you to plan your next steps.

Register for the Webinar:

• US and EMEA: Tuesday, February 23 at 11am ET/4pm GMT

• Asia Pacific: Wednesday, February 24 at 9am AEDT

“Our relationship with you and your firm is of the highest importance to us, and the entire Elite team is wholeheartedly committed to helping you plan a successful path forward. A member of the Elite team will be reaching out to your firm over the coming days to further discuss this announcement.”

COMMENT: Well the writing was all was on the wall for Enterprise – and by 2022 it will be 30 years old, which is pretty good going for computer software but this announcement does raise questions – not least the fact Thomson Reuters seem to be trying to shift some of the blame onto Microsoft!

The first big question is where will Enterprise users go as the Thomson Reuters successor product 3E is still dogged by the reputation of being very expensive and difficult to implement. Then there are the timescales “up to seven years to plan and implement a transition from Enterprise” sounds reasonable but given the huge number of sites still on Enterprise, that means Elite is going to have to switch firms to 3E at a rate of nearly two a week, every week, until 2022. And that isn’t happening. In fact even the competitors out there will probably struggle with processing such a sudden huge influx of new business.

So, Elite have bitten the bullet and finally made the announcement. A lot of law firm finance and IT directors will be looking at their schedules and wondering if now is a good time to move out of legal or else start planning for early retirement. Computer consultants will be stocking up on paper on which to produce RFIs, ITTs and proposal documents. And in the offices of Aderant, LexisNexis Enterprise Solutions and Peppermint Technology – the three most likely beneficiaries – sales staff will be pinching themselves and wondering if all their birthdays have come at once.

Oh yes, and Elite Enterprise has officially taken over from Microsoft Sharepoint as the legal IT industry’s Monty Python parrot!