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 preinstalled 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 preinstall 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
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
Gownder added that the combination of consumers' "deep, longstanding
relationship with Office," the power and convenience of PCs for running
desktop-based programs, and the "more limited experience" offered by
browser-based applications will all contribute to a high rate of adoption for
But browser-based productivity software, which ports applications directly
from the cloud as opposed to being stored on the user's hard drive, is almost
certainly on the rise; Microsoft has seemed to acknowledge as such with its
recent Office Web Apps on SkyDrive. Currently available to users in the United
States, the United
the software allows users to view and edit Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote
documents online via Office.Live.com, although some advanced features have been
reserved for the desktop-based Office 2010.
Office 2010 is widely seen as Microsoft's attempt to compete with Google
Docs and other cloud-based productivity programs, although Gownder insisted in
his blog post that such a head-to-head comparison would be inaccurate.
"Invariably, some reviews will compare Google Docs and Office Web Apps ...
as if they were meant to be comparable offerings," he wrote. "This is
a mistake. Office Web Apps are a complement to the client program, more of a
feature than a stand-alone competitor to Google Docs."
That hasn't stopped Google from making a pitch of its own, however.
"If you're considering upgrading Office with Office, we'd encourage you
to consider an alternative: upgrading Office with Google Docs," Matthew
Glotzbach, Google enterprise product management director, wrote May
11 on the official Google Enterprise blog
. "If you choose this path,
upgrade means what it's supposed to mean: effortless, affordable and delivering
a remarkable increase in employee productivity."
Google Docs offers an alternative that will "end the endless cycle of
upgrades," Glotzbach wrote, adding that the only thing a business has to
risk is "a server or two."