Microsoft Office 2010 Released to Manufacturing

Microsoft announced that its upcoming Office 2010 has been released to manufacturing, ahead of a rollout to business customers in May and retail availability in June. Office 2010 underwent an extensive round of public beta testing, with more than 7.5 million people downloading the software since November 2009. Although Microsoft has traditionally held substantial market share in the desktop productivity arena, it faces a growing challenge from cloud-based productivity applications such as Google Apps, which the company has attempted to counter with a stripped-down, browser-accessible version of Office.

Microsoft announced that Office 2010, SharePoint 2010, Visio 2010 and Project 2010 have reached their release-to-manufacturing milestone on April 15, bringing one step closer to release a host of products that the company hopes will allow it to maintain its market share in the productivity arena.

"RTM is the final engineering milestone of a product release and our engineering team has poured their heart and soul into reaching this milestone," Takeshi Numoto, corporate vice president of Microsoft Office, wrote in an April 15 posting on the Microsoft Office 2010 Engineering blog. "It is also an appropriate time to re-emphasize our sincere gratitude to the more than 5,000 organizations and partners who have worked with us on rapid deployment and testing of the products."

Office 2010 has been downloaded by 7.5 million people since its public beta release in November 2009, according to Numoto. That broad beta-testing mimicked Microsoft's strategy with its Windows 7 rollout, allowing the company to tweak the software platform based on user feedback ahead of the RTM.

The final version will be officially launched to business customers on May 12, with retail availability in June.

Despite Microsoft's dominant market position with regard to productivity software such as Office, it faces a growing challenge from cloud-based productivity applications such as Google Apps, which has been adopted by a number of businesses and government agencies. Google announced on March 5 that it acquired DocVerse, an application that allows groups to collaborate online on Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents, potentially shifting the competition into another gear if Google decides to integrate DocVerse's technology into Google Apps.

"We recognize that many people are still accustomed to desktop software," Jonathan Rochelle, group product manager for the Google Apps team, wrote on the Google Enterprise blog on March 5. "So as we continue to improve Google Docs and Google Sites as rich collaboration tools, we're also making it easier for people to transition to the cloud and interoperate with desktop applications like Microsoft Office."

In a bid to counter the rising competition from the cloud, Microsoft is introducing stripped-down, browser-accessible editions of OneNote, Excel, Word and PowerPoint online. Certain features, however, will be restricted to the full, purchasable version of the software.