MS: Office 2010 'easiest version to use' for businesses

New Sharepoint offers ‘rare’ combination of BI and social networking

Microsoft has claimed Office 2010 is "easily the most innovative and easy to use" version of the software, with "easy" transfer for users from previous releases.

The product, released to businesses yesterday ahead of a June consumer launch, is significantly different in look and feel from previous versions, promising a range of new features including what the company described at a UK launch today as "simple" access to data from PCs, laptops and mobile devices.

But Microsoft today insisted that despite all the changes it was easy for businesses to make the shift, and said it offered free training days with volume licences to help guide those leading the change in their workplace or deploying the software.

A range of UK customers have tested early versions of Office 2010 and Sharepoint 2010, including telecoms business BT, law firm Clifford Chance, the Football Association and charity Cancer Research UK. Globally, 90 million licences have been signed for the products ahead of the launch, out of the half a billion users of previous versions.

Jeff Teper, corporate VP at Microsoft, said "billions of dollars" of research and development money had gone into the products, including funding development of complex algorithms in the UK, at a unit in Cambridge.

Microsoft said the new Sharepoint version offered an "unusual combination" in the marketplace of social networking and business intelligence features. These come alongside familiar workflow, document management and enterprise search functions.

At the launch, Microsoft made much out of the cloud capabilities of the software, alluding without reference to the highly-publicised advance of Google with its suite of online applications. It insisted that it had the "clout" in the online marketplace, with 30,000 engineers, and customers such as GlaxoSmithkline, Royal Mail and Aviva already making large investments in the vendor's cloud offering.

But Peter King, Office Server Group Manager, told Computerworld UK Microsoft is focused on keeping both on-premise and cloud versions of the software open to users: "Customers have different reasons for the type of deployment they want, and many choose a mix of the cloud and on-premise. It's not a binary choice -- of one or the other -- and we'd rather keep it open."

For businesses looking to move to Office or Sharepoint 2010, Microsoft offers 'Buzz Days' and other types of training where people "across the board, ranging from architects to admins managing single servers" could be guided on the changes.

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