Microsoft launches Office 2010

Microsoft officially launched the new Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010 products to its corporate customers overnight. The latest update to the software adds new features to the desktop applications like Word, Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint.

Stephen Elop

Stephen Elop, Microsoft Business Division
president, unveils Office 2010 in New
York City on Wednesday(Credit: Marguerite Reardon/CNET)

In addition to the corporate version of the product, Microsoft has also added a free internet version of the apps that Microsoft is calling Office Web. And it is introducing mobile access to the new suite of Microsoft Office products.

The free web version of the software will allow consumers, students and corporate customers trying to access these applications from a home computer to access the programs and files from anywhere using a web browser and an internet connection. This new free version of software will be available starting 15 June.

Microsoft is also bringing the enhanced software suite to mobile phones. For its own, Windows Mobile phones, Microsoft has developed a mobile application, which can be downloaded onto any Windows Mobile 6.5. Another version of the app will be available for Windows Phone 7 when that is available later this year.

Wireless users who own Nokia devices will also be able to download special mobile applications for access to the Office Web 2010 suite. Microsoft and Nokia struck a deal to integrate Microsoft software into its phones last year.

For people who don't have a Windows Mobile phone or a Nokia phone, Microsoft has made these applications available via a mobile web browser, giving any wireless user whether they are using a smartphone, like an Apple iPhone, or a basic feature phone, the opportunity to access some of the Office 2010 functionality.

The new version of Office 2010 is all about keeping people connected and allowing them to collaborate. Some of the new features the company showed off during a demonstration highlighted this. For example during the keynote, Chris Capossela, senior vice president of Microsoft Information Worker Product Management Group showed how photos and video can be edited within Word and PowerPoint. He also showed how PowerPoint slides can be broadcast and people using the web and mobile version of the application can view the slideshow anywhere they can get access to the internet.

Microsoft's move to put some Office functionality into the "cloud" and offer it to consumers for free is a clear nod to competitor Google, which has been offering things like Google Docs for free for years. But unlike Google, Microsoft isn't looking to make money by selling advertising to consumers.

Instead, Microsoft hopes that the web version of these products will give consumers enough of a taste of the applications to persuade them to actually buy the software. The web version of the products don't offer the full functionality of the client-based software. For example, Capossela said during an interview that video or pictures can't be edited in the web version of PowerPoint. The browser simply doesn't allow it.

"You can use the web version of Office to do basic things like share documents and edit them," said Capossela. "But if you're a student, you're still probably going to want the rich client version to write a paper. You wouldn't want to do all of that in the browser."

Capossela said that he believes if consumers are given a taste of some of the new functionality in Office 2010, they will want the full version.

"People will definitely pay for value," he said. "The free version is a great thing to have available when you want to work on a document from home or you want to share it with someone."

As for the mobile version of the product, Capossela said that Microsoft wanted to make sure that customers could access their documents, spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations from anywhere. So it was important to make the software accessible by any mobile phone. But he admitted that Microsoft has made the apps for its own Windows Mobile platform more robust than the web-browser version available by handsets using other mobile operating systems.

"The approach we've taken with phones is to build rich client applications for Windows phones," Capossela said. "When you're running PowerPoint on a Windows Mobile phone or a Nokia phone, you're getting a richer experience than if you're using a BlackBerry or some other type of device."


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rob m posted a comment   

My biggest issue is the price. MS Office has enormous profit margins that many are just not aware of. Some argue that if people are silly enough to buy MS Office at retail prices then they deserve everything they get. But I believe MS Office should be under $100 for the full version and under $50 for the student version. This still gives MS enormous profit margins that people are unaware of. But I guess, because MS have fingers in so many pies now, they need this ridiculous amount of revenue to fund the enormous R&D costs and sustained losses of new areas that they pump money into. It's just that the average person on the street is paying for it. Corporates, yes, well, if their Managers are foolish enough to pay through the nose for MS Office, then so be it. Their budgets just feed MS revenues. But for home users and students MS pricing is unnecessarily greedy. If the cloud version is not hobbled too much, it will benefit this group greatly, and Open Office will be less enticing.


2Hit6 posted a comment   

@Rob M - its just more of a compatibility issue, and people are more use to MS Office. Again formatting wise, MS Office has more options. If you're talking about small businesses - then yes some can live off OpenOffice, but 'corporates' - don't think so.


blaah posted a comment   
New Zealand

@ rob m

Office alternatives aren't nearly as good as Microsoft's suite. Open/Star Office for example has compatibility issues with files from Mircosoft Office. It's interesting how nothing comes close to Mircrosoft


rob m posted a comment   

I hope the cloud version of Office isn't too hobbled. Otherwise, Open Office is really the only game in town. Unless you really like flushing money down the drain ... which many corporates like to do strangely enough.
Amazing how few corporates even know of the existence of MS office alternatives. Try before you buy, then realise you don't even need to buy.

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