December 1, 2009
Microsoft on Tuesday confirmed that the next version of its Office productivity suite will be released in the middle of next year.
Office 2010, and related products, will be available in June, Microsoft said, in response to numerous Internet reports about a possible ship date for the software. To keep pace with the growing number of free, or low-cost, desktop productivity tools available online, Microsoft for the first time plans to include a Web-based version of Office with the 2010 release. Office Web, as the offering is called, will be available to consumers at no charge. The free, online products will include the Office word processing application, the Excel spreadsheet, PowerPoint presentation software, and OneNote message pad, Microsoft said. They'll be available directly through Microsoft's Windows Live portal and launch directly within a user's browser. Businesses that purchase volume subscriptions to Office also will receive access to the Office Web apps at no additional charge. The plan allows Microsoft to protect its flank from Web-based software from Google and from free, open source-based offerings, such as IBM's Lotus Symphony. The Office Web versions, however, won't contain all the features of their pricey, desktop-based brethren. Microsoft intends to give its corporate customers the option of hosting Office Web on their own servers in order to give them more control over the product. 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. Among Office 2010's 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, meanwhile, will allow multiple users to access and edit a single document over the Web.
InformationWeek has published an indepth report on Windows 7. Download the report here (registration required).
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