Microsoft Plans Office 2010 Release in May for Businesses

Microsoft will release the full version of Office 2010 to businesses May 12, around a month before consumers are given the newest version of the company's productivity suite. A Microsoft executive also indicated in a blog posting that Office 2010, SharePoint 2010, Visio 2010 and Project 2010 were all on track to be released to manufacturing in April. Office 2010 incorporates cloud-based access to stripped-down versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, in a bid to challenge other online services such as Google Apps.

Businesses will be able to purchase the full version of Office 2010 May 12, roughly a month before consumers get their hands on Microsoft's next-version productivity suite.

"For businesses, we will launch the 2010 set of products, including Office 2010, SharePoint 2010, Visio 2010, and Project 2010 worldwide on May 12," Jevon Fark, senior marketing manager for Microsoft Office, wrote in a March 4 posting on the Microsoft Office 2010 Engineering blog. "For consumers, Office 2010 will be available online and on retail shelves this June. Until then, you can get the Office 2010 beta."
Office 2010, SharePoint 2010, Visio 2010 and Project 2010 are all, according to Fark, on schedule to be RTM (released to manufacturing) in April.
For those users participating in Microsoft's Office 2010 Technology Guarantee, which will allow those who've purchased Office 2010 to download Office 2010 for free in June, the blog posting traces out the eligibility requirements: purchase and activate either Office 2007, or a new PC with Office 2007, between March 5 and September 30; either have or create a Windows Live ID; and redeem the actual guarantee through this site.
Microsoft originally released the beta versions of Office 2010, SharePoint Server 2010, Project 2010, Visio 2010, Office Mobile 2010 and Office Web Apps at the Professional Developers Conference in November 2009.
Microsoft initiated a wide beta testing for Office 2010 that involved millions of users, mimicking its ramp-up strategy for Windows 7. Early reviews of the beta noted improvements such as sidebar enhancements to Word 2010, tweaks to Excel 2010's PivotTable and PivotChart, and Access additions such as alerting users to blocked active content.
But perhaps the most radical element of the traditionally desktop-bound suite is its cloud-based component. Windows Live subscribers will be able to access stripped-down, browser-accessible editions of OneNote, Excel, Word and PowerPoint online, although a number of features will be restricted to the full, purchasable version.
Microsoft faces a growing challenge in the cloud arena from Google, which announced March 5 that it had acquired DocVerse, an application that allows groups to collaborate online on Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents. Google will likely integrate DocVerse's technology into Google Apps, its online productivity suite, in order to potentially increase its appeal to both the consumer and business segments.
"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 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."