Microsoft Releases Office 2010 Worldwide

Microsoft announced the worldwide availability of Office 2010, more than a month after releasing the software to business consumers. In a bid to bolster its hardware partners, Microsoft is touting the versions of Office 2010 pre-installed on new PCs. 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.

Microsoft is announcing the worldwide availability of Office 2010, Microsoft Visio 2010 and Microsoft Project 2010. While expectations for the software’s success runs high, Office 2010 enters a market under rapid change due to cloud-based productivity apps such as Google Docs.

The worldwide launch of Office 2010 follows the software’s release to business consumers, along with SharePoint 2010, on May 12.

Perhaps in an attempt to bolster its hardware partners, Microsoft is emphasizing its plan to pre-install the latest version of Office on a variety of PCs; while purchasers of those machines will have access to a stripped-down version of the software, full functionality can only be “unlocked” with a special card. In previous blog postings, Microsoft executives have alluded to the free, stripped-down Office 2010 as “advertising-supported.”

Users can also download Office directly.

“For the first time, people can purchase a Product Key Card at retail to activate Office 2010 preloaded on new PCs,” Stephen Elop, president of Microsoft Business Division, wrote in a June 15 statement. “For those who want to download Office 2010 direct from Office.com for an existing PC, the new Click-to-Run technology will have them up and running in a matter of minutes.”

Microsoft claimed in a June 15 press release that, based on its own survey, some 75 percent of Office 2010 beta users plan to purchase the retail version of the software within six months. “We predict this will be the biggest consumer release of Office, ever,” Elop wrote in the accompanying statement.

One analyst from Forrester, JP Gownder, seems to agree with the Microsoft assessment. “On the shoulders of Office 2010 rests nothing less than the defense of packaged software in general,” he wrote in a June 14 posting on his eponymous blog. “In some ways, the Office versus Google Docs debate doesn’t merit a lot of consideration—it’s still no competition.”

http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Enterprise-Applications/Microsoft-Releases-Office-2010-Worldwide-414186/

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