Microsoft Office 2010 (technical preview)

Most of the real changes in the new versions of Word, Excel, Outlook, and Powerpoint come in your capability to use them on the Web.

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Microsoft Office 2010
  • Microsoft Office 2010
  • Microsoft Office 2010
  • Microsoft Office 2010

Pros

  • Web Apps

Cons

  • Much will depend on the performance of Office Web Apps, faces stiff competition from free online office suites

Bottom Line

Until Microsoft offers more than press releases for its Office Web Apps there is not much we can say. But given its dominance in the office software market we can assume Microsoft's entrance into this space to make huge waves in the nascent market of cloud-based office productivity applications.

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It has taken Microsoft a long time to bring its flagship Office suite to the Web and now it finally has with Office 2010. The software suite comes packed with meaningful improvements such as new cut-and-paste features for Word and new ways to broadcast your PowerPoint presentations online. But the most striking addition to Office 2010 is the introduction of Office Web Apps. These are lightweight versions of Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote that are all accessible via desktop, mobile devices, and Web browsers Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari.

Microsoft released a technical preview of Office 2010 to developers recently giving the public a first official glimpse at the software giant's flagship Office software. We've been playing around with Office 2010 for a few weeks now. Our thoughts on the software are outlined below. Sadly we'll have to wait a bit longer for testing Office 2010 Web applications. According to Microsoft, its Web apps can't be tested until later this year.

Final versions of Microsoft Office 2010 and Office Web applications are expected within the first half of 2010. Pricing is still unknown; however, Microsoft says it will bring the number of Office editions down from eight to five. When Office Web applications launch, they will be free and available through Microsoft's Windows Live set of online services. Businesses will be able to choose an Office 2010 licensing option that allows them to host their own Office Web applications. Microsoft's Office 2010 Web site can be found here.

Watch Out Google Apps: Microsoft Now Lets You Create, Edit, Save Office Docs Online

For key Office 2010 programs such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and the online collaborative program OneNote Microsoft now includes Web applications. Microsoft says all the Office 2010 Web applications will be available to anyone with a free Windows Live account. Access will allow you to create, edit, and share existing documents with others. You'll also be able to store documents online to a free Windows Live SkyDrive account.

Don't expect identical features with the online version of Word. Microsoft says it's doing its best to make it a close match to the software equivalent of Word, making sure the Web version retains the same look and feel as in the desktop. Word, like all Office 2010 Web apps, retains the "ribbon user interface." Don't expect the identical functionality as the software client version of Word. With Office Word App you can:

  • Create, edit, and save Word documents
  • Add tables, bullets, and styles to Word documents
  • The browser-based version of Word has AutoCorrect and background spelling checker.

With the Office PowerPoint App you can create and edit presentations from the Web -- that includes the ability to pick a theme and slide layout. Other online features include:

  • Ability to add animations
  • In-browser and full-screen Slide Show views.
  • Autocorrect, spelling checker, and auto-numbering/bulleting and undo/redo.
  • Ability to insert pictures, charts, and tables into existing PowerPoint presentations

As with other Office Web applications, Microsoft is trying to make the Web version of Excel look and feel like the software version of Excel, but with reduced functions. As you would expect, the Office Excel Web application allows you to create, edit and, save Microsoft Excel workbooks via Web browsers. Other functions:

  • Multiuser co-authoring -- more than one person can edit data at the same time.
  • The ability to use the same Excel formulas on online and in the client version of the program.

Microsoft Office Reaches for the Clouds

One paper Microsoft Web strategy is compelling. For now, we'll have to take Microsoft at its word when it comes to cloud-based versions of its Office applications. One thing for sure Redmond can talk a good game. All indications are Google is in for some stiff competition when it comes to Google Docs & Spreadsheets. Other online office suites such as ThinkFree Office Online and Zoho Office Suite will also want to watch their backs.

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