Microsoft will release three versions of its Office software that users can access over the Web, catching up with products that rival Google launched three years ago.
Microsoft said that Office 2010 and related products would deliver innovative capabilities and would allow people work anywhere with Office Web applications. The lightweight Web browser versions of Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote will provide access to documents from virtually anywhere and preserve the look and feel of a document regardless of device.
Users will also collaborate better with co-authoring in Microsoft Word 2010, Microsoft PowerPoint 2010 and Microsoft OneNote 2010. Microsoft's Outlook 2010 will also offer advanced e-mail management and calendaring capabilities including the option for users to "ignore" unwanted threads.
Microsoft PowerPoint 2010 will offer video and picture editing while the new Microsoft Office Backstage view will feature broadcast capabilities in easy document preparation. Finally the new Sparklines in Microsoft Excel 2010 will visualize data and spot trends more quickly.
Microsoft also announced that it is streamlining the number of Office editions from eight to five and enhancing each edition with additional applications and features. The company also announced that Office Web applications will be available in three ways: through Windows Live, where consumers will have access to Office Web applications at no cost; on-premises for all Office volume licensing customers including more than 90 million Office annuity customers; and via Microsoft Online Services, where customers will be able to purchase a subscription as part of a hosted offering.
Microsoft also is preparing partners for the release of Office 2010 and SharePoint Server 2010 through a number of new and refreshed readiness tools and training programs. These include the Ignite program for SharePoint, Office and Exchange; Business Productivity Infrastructure Optimization (BPIO) University; Masters and Architect Certification for SharePoint; new Partner Business Productivity Online Services features and distributor model; and Exchange 2010 Readiness Webcast Series and Demo Showcase.
All Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference attendees will receive invitations to participate in the Technical Preview program. Office 2010 and related products will be available in the first half of 2010.
The Web version of Office 2010 will be free to consumers, in a version supported by advertising. Microsoft will let companies with long-term Office licensing agreements install the online programs on their servers for no extra charge. Companies will also be able to buy subscriptions to access the programs through Microsoft-operated data centers.
Microsoft has not said how much Office 2010 will cost, only that it will sell five variations on the suite, two for big corporations and three available to consumers and small businesses.