Office 2010 now available.

Microsoft launched the general availability for the latest version of its popular productivity suite today, christened Office 2010. I got the chance to try out the final product and I must say its an excellent upgrade. Microsoft is using a multi pronged strategy to make Office the best place for business productivity; this includes the traditional desktop applications Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint etc, but also the Web.

Yep, the Internet is now a convenient way to experience popular Microsoft applications, of course, these are not as full featured as the local counterparts, instead it offers new, exciting ways to experience Office while maintaining the rich experience of content created in the applications anywhere, anytime, any device. In addition using Office in the web browser, Microsoft is also pushing a richer mobile experience too, which is part of the strategy of having access to the power of Office anytime, anywhere and any device. If you have a powerful Internet connection (simply put, lots of bandwidth), Microsoft is also utilizing some of its investments from its virtualization portfolio. Users will be able to stream a full version of Microsoft Office 2010 to their desktop without installing the suite at all.

Simply download a small setup executable, and your applications will be streamed to you. Earlier versions of Office can even co-exist with the new 2010 release this way and the key benefit to is, you can still use the suite off line. Microsoft recently announced a partnership with Facebook.com to provide a service for Facebook members to collaborate on documents at http://www.docs.com. Basically you can share and work on documents with your Facebook friends. Some might ask, what is the point of this? Considering that Microsoft Office runs on at least one billion PC’s worldwide and Facebook has at least 400 million or more subscribers, the likely possibility of you being able to share and collaborate with friends is very high.

Collaboration and consistency are the key words that best describe the theme of this release. Microsoft is also focusing on making the document lifecycle experience more dynamic and agile. Office of course has to contend with a new set of competitive challenges such as Google recently boosting up its online offerings and Oracle’s recent acquisition of SUN Microsystems assets also brings the possibility of an injection increased focus on competing with Office through the popular free alternative Open Office.org productivity suite.

Microsoft Office is not standing still, and as you dive into the suite and popular products such as Outlook which introduces an enhanced user experience with features such as Conversation View which fits nicely with the recently released Exchange Server 2010, Backstage Technology for better access to management solutions built into Office while saving time when preparing large documents, you get the reminder why Office is still number one. Visualizing information is also a critical improvement in Office, and Excel 2010 in particular focuses on better ways of analyzing key trends in information with the new feature called Sparklines. PowerPoint has finally embraced multi-media full stream and users will be impressed with the tools to help deliver presentations that are more dynamic and informative, yet entertaining.

Microsoft has created a successful franchise that is Office, a suite of applications that pioneered cohesive experiences allowing end users to be productive by using a uniformed approach to working with information across a variety of familiar applications. 2007’s successful Office 2007 infused the platform with new momentum by further innovating through new ways of using Office applications more effectively with the new Office Fluent UI that exposed tools that were once hidden under drop down menus. With Office 2010, it’s about building on those benefits by exposing more applications in the Office family to Office Fluent. In addition to that Office 2010 improves the core experiences that initially made the platform so popular.

You can read the entire review of Office Professional 2010 I prepared for ActiveWin.com here

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