The highly anticipated release of Microsoft Office 2010 is just around the corner, with an edition for business volume license holders scheduled for May 12 and the consumer version coming June 15.
While the updated Office suite boasts a range of improvements across all its modules, including built-in social networking facilities and compatible bridges to popular websites like Facebook, the jury is still out on whether this latest release will have enough appeal to trigger a mass exodus among business users or generate significant interest on the consumer side.
A number of business users admit improvements to applications like Outlook Exchange are long overdue and could be reason enough to make the jump from Office 2007 to the updated suite. Others counter there are very capable and free alternatives available as open source software and Web-based applications become increasingly attractive in an effort to cut costs during the current economic recovery. They include:
- Google Docs
- IBM Lotus Symphony 1.3
- OpenOffice 3.1
- ThinkFree Office Online Beta
- Zoho Writer, Sheet and Show
There are free versions of Office 2010 – Starter Edition and Office Web Apps – but their availability and functionality are somewhat limited. The latter version, Office Web Apps, is aimed squarely at the threat posed by Google Docs, and hopes to outdo its rival product by tying online, browser-based versions of Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint directly into its Office 2010 desktop counterparts.
Microsoft has even apparently listened to its customers and made some changes to Office 2010. One of the most noticeable is eliminating the controversial ribbon interface that debuted in Office 2007 and resurrecting the File menu. If you skipped the Office 2003 to 2007 upgrade due to “ribbon anxiety,” then Office 2010 will ease your transition to a more modern product.
Notebook Review will look closely at the Office 2010 modules over the next several weeks, beginning with an in-depth analysis of the free Office 2010 Starter Edition. Be sure to catch this preview, as well as others that focus on key elements like Excel 2010 and PowerPoint 2010.
Collaborative coverage will also take place on our sister site, SearchEnterpriseDesktop, and focus on some strategic and deployment issues surrounding Office 2010 business users.