Microsoft will let its business customers run Office Web off their own, internal servers.
Microsoft plans to give its corporate customers the option of hosting the company's new Web-based Office 2010 offering on their own servers in order to give them more control of the product.
"All Office volume licensing customers will have the right to Web apps to run themselves on-premises," said Chris Capossela, senior VP for Microsoft's Business unit, in an interview. "This is a really big distinction between Microsoft and our competition," said Capossela, in a reference to rival Google.
Google's cloud-based Google Apps, which includes Office-style word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation tools, must be tapped from Google's own servers—a situation that makes some IT managers uneasy due to concerns about privacy and security.
"We really believe that for many customers they want the choice of being able to control things themselves," said Capossela. Microsoft will also give its corporate customers the option to access Office Web, as Microsoft is calling the Internet-based version of Office 2010, externally if they lack the infrastructure to run it in internally.
Access to Office Web, which includes versions of Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote optimized for the cloud, is available to Microsoft's subscription customers at no additional charge to the client version. Consumers will be able to access Office Web entirely for free through Microsoft's Windows Live portal.
Office Web will be part of the Office 2010 general release, which is slated for the first half of next year.
Among the enhancements over previous editions are beefed up video and image processing tools that let users edit photos and videos from within their Office documents. New collaboration capabilities allow multiple users to access and edit a single document over the Web.
Microsoft on Monday released a technical preview of the product to selected developers. It plans to introduce a beta version later this year.
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