Over the years Microsoft has made a lot of its fortune selling mainstream business productivity applications, and today Microsoft has officially launched its latest suite: Office 2010 for Windows. As one might expect, the new version includes updates to Microsoft standbys like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint…but Microsoft may have a tough job selling new versions of applications that, in many users’ eyes, matured many years ago. To sweeten the deal, Microsoft is including free browser-based versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, enabling users to view and edit the most common Office documents with just a Web browser, confident that what they’re seeing (and the changes they make) will be reflected with fidelity in the full desktop versions of those tools.
The Web-based apps don’t have one-for-one feature parity with the desktop applications—you’re not going to find video editing tools in the online version of PowerPoint—Microsoft hopes the online versions will be enough to stave off competition from other online productivity suites…like Google Apps and Lotus Symphony. However, the Web-based applications also have net-centric features users won’t find in the desktop applications, such as the ability to embed tags in documents and send them to blogs.
Microsoft is also changing up its Office sales strategy: customers will be able to buy an Product Key Card at retail locations to activate Office 2010 bundles preloaded onto new PCs from major manufacturers. Microsoft is also offering the entire suite as a downloadable product, with new Click-to-Run technology automatically downloading any application updates and virtualization technology enabling users to keep multiple versions of Office: that way, folks can try Office 2010 without disrupting their current Office installation.
A boxed, retail version of the Professional Edition of Office 2010 carries a $499 price tag; a downloadable version is $349. Online versions are also cheaper for other editions: the Home & Business Edition runs $279 in a box compared to $199 downloaded, and the Home &Student version runs $149 with a box, versions $119 downloaded.
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