Microsoft officials announced the worldwide availability of Office 2010 today. Although Office 2010 is expected to sell well, it enters a changing landscape marked by the rise of cloud-based productivity apps such as Google Docs, something Microsoft has somewhat anticipated with its own new Office Web Apps.
More than 100 million PCs with Office 2010 preloaded on the system will be shipped over the next year. All versions include Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. New computers from Sony, Dell, Toshiba and Hewlett-Packard will come with Office Starter, a free, lite version of Word and Excel. People can pay to upgrade to the full version of Office, which will include Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and other software. For those who don’t use Outlook, Microsoft’s integrated email program, the $149 Home and Student Edition is the least costly alternative. Adding Outlook bumps the price to $279 for Office Home and Business versions. At the top of the line is Office Professional that adds Access for database management and Publisher for easy layout design tools.
Microsoft launched Office 2010 to businesses last month and says adoption is going well, but many companies will get the software automatically through volume licensing agreements and won’t have to decide whether to upgrade. Consumers, on the other hand, will offer a more accurate picture of whether the improvements Microsoft has made in its latest update will translate to market success. Microsoft said a new comScore study found that one billion computers are running Office. Nine million people downloaded the free test version of Office 2010, six times the number of downloads to test Office 2007, according to Microsoft.
Microsoft has tapped the cloud to offer a free online version of its Office suite that rivals products like Google Docs and Open Office in attempt to urge users to collaborate and share Microsoft documents via the web. Software you are familiar with like Word, Excel and PowerPoint now have a place in Windows Live account that will enable you to upload documents to share with team members, clients, as well as family and friends.
“We’ve made dramatic changes to the way we deliver Office 2010 to give consumers more buying choice, making it easier than ever to unlock the power of Office on new and existing PCs,” said Stephen Elop, president of Microsoft’s Business division, in a statement.
There are some cool features of Office Web Apps like the ability to co-author an Excel document. Instead of being locked out of a document or have the check in/out a document for control like SharePoint, two authors can be in the same document making changes at the same time. There some drawbacks, though. The co-author feature doesn’t include a way to actually see what the other author is editing. So there is the possibility that two authors could be in the same document, at the same time, editing the same content! So you have to be careful when collaborating in real-time, cause it could turn out to be real-confusing.
A free trial of each version is available for download from the Microsoft Office 2010 site through October of this year. At the end of 60 days, trial users will be required to purchase the product for continued use. With purchase, the product key to unlock the program can be used for up to three computers. Added features include new video and editing options in PowerPoint, updated text effects and table formatting in Word, advanced e-mail management and calendaring options in Outlook, co-authoring options in Word, PowerPoint, and OneNote, and a Web-based option via Office Web Apps.