The latest version of Microsoft's blockbuster office productivity suite, Office 2010, is available to consumers beginning today via new PCs, through online downloads, and in more than 35,000 retail stores around the world. Today's consumer launch of Office 2010 follows an early business launch in May, when corporations with volume license agreements gained early access to the software solutions.
As with previous versions of Office, consumers interested in Office 2010 can purchase the software in retail boxed form and with new PCs. But with Office 2010, there are some unique new options available. Microsoft is offering a free but scaled-back version of the suite available online as the Office Web Apps. Customers who acquire new, low-end versions of Office 2010 on new PCs can upgrade electronically after purchasing a new Product Key Card at retail locations. And customers can download Office online using a new virtualization-based distribution system called Click-to-Run.
"Working with major retail partners and PC makers, we've made dramatic changes in the way we deliver Office 2010 to give consumers more buying choice, making it easier than ever to unlock the power of Office on new and existing PCs," says Microsoft President Stephen Elop. "For the first time, people can purchase a Product Key Card at retail to activate Office 2010 preloaded on new PCs. 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."
Most major PC makers—including Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo, Samsung, and Sony—are now shipping computers with Office 2010 preloaded, and Microsoft expects these customers to deliver more than 100 million copies of the productivity suite to customers this year alone. Many of these preloads will consist of the new Office 2010 Starter edition, which includes stripped-down versions of Word and Excel only but can be upgraded electronically to higher-end Office versions.
Despite lots of news and hype around cloud computing solutions, traditional Office products continue to garner huge sales, and Microsoft expects that trend to continue with Office 2010. More than 9 million people downloaded the public beta version of the product—a figure that Microsoft says is six times higher than that for the prerelease version of its predecessor, Office 2007. According to a survey conducted by Microsoft, over 75 percent of these beta participants said they would upgrade to the final, shipping version of Office 2010 within six months. But the potential upgrade pool is much, much bigger than that: There are currently more than 1 billion PCs worldwide with some version of Office installed.
Office 2010 is, of course, a large and complex set of solutions. Fortunately, I've got you covered: Head over to the SuperSite for Windows for reviews of Office 2010, the Office Web Apps, and Office Mobile 2010, which include screenshots of all the applications and a number of other articles and commentaries.