Office 2010: Tech Preview now, free Web apps in August

Microsoft Office logoMicrosoft Office 2010 has reached the Technical Preview stage, and Microsoft has announced that free, ad-supported Web versions of its key apps are coming soon. Ars takes a look at today's announcement.

At this year's Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC), Microsoft announced that Office 2010, SharePoint Server 2010, Visio 2010, and Project 2010 have reached the Technical Preview stage. As announced in May, Microsoft is giving tens of thousands of people the opportunity to test Office and Visio. All WPC attendees (cost of entry is $2,000) will receive invitations to participate in the Technical Preview program, as will hand-picked testers.

Microsoft acknowledged that the reason Office 2010 is not ready for a public release is that this release is not yet feature complete and is solely being made available to garner feedback for the engineering team.

In addition, Microsoft announced that the Web versions of its applications will be available in several flavors, including a free, ad-supported version.

Reducing complexity

One of the significant improvements that Microsoft deserves applause for is the streamlining of the number of editions from Office 2007's eight to Office 2010's five. The most obvious change is that OneNote is available in every single SKU. The five SKUs are as follows (Microsoft has not yet revealed pricing):

  • Office Home and Student: Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote
  • Office Home and Business: same as above, plus Outlook
  • Office Standard: same as above, plus Publisher (only available via volume licensing)
  • Office Professional: same as above, plus Access
  • Office Professional Plus: same as above, plus SharePoint Workspace and InfoPath (only available via volume licensing)

Testers will be getting access to the Office 2010 Professional SKU. When a recent build of Office 2010 leaked yesterday, we noted that it was curious it was referred to as "Mondo," which signifies Ultimate, because we were told by a good source that the Ultimate SKU had been killed off. This has been confirmed today, as was the removal of the Enterprise edition and Basic edition, but it only leaves more questions about yesterday's leak of build 14.0.4302.1000.

Microsoft has indicated that with the new version, picture and video editing is coming to PowerPoint, new data visualization capabilities are being added to Excel, and that co-authoring (two or more people can work on a project simultaneously and see their changes in real-time) is coming to Word, PowerPoint, and OneNote. In addition, Outlook is getting advanced e-mail management and calendaring capabilities (as well as the useful Ignore function for "Reply All" chains that was detailed in April). Finally, the company also noted easy document preparation through the new Microsoft Office Backstage view, as well as a feature called "Sparklines" in Excel for visualizing data and spotting trends more quickly. With Office 2010, the Ribbon has been added to Outlook, Publisher, and OneNote, which used the old menus in Office 2007.

If you don't get into the Technical Preview, don't worry; the public preview of Office 2010 is slated to arrive "this coming summer." Office 2010 is the first release of the productivity suite that will come in 32-bit and 64-bit flavors (possibly on one DVD). Microsoft is aiming to release Office 2010 in the first half of 2010. If you're interested in learning more, we recommend checking out the Office 2010 website as it has good video footage explaining what's coming.

Source: ars technica

Tags: Microsoft

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