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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Microsoft Office 2010 Offers Word, Excel, Powerpoint In The Cloud

Microsoft Corp. last week formally unwrapped the latest release of its venerable Office application collection, presenting upgrades for Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook as well as new versions of its SharePoint, Visio and Project products.

In a nod to encroaching competition from Google Inc.’s online Google Docs, Microsoft added cloud collaborative editing with a roll out of Office Web Apps—online versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint—available immediately to business customers. Consumers will be able to pick up the online suite in about a month though the vendor’s Windows Live web site.

With the Office 2010 and earlier Windows 7 product releases, Microsoft appears to have positioned itself for a huge upside should an expected industry-wide IT upgrade cycle occur, as many have predicted.

In showing off the Office 2010 application suite, Microsoft touted productivity gains--backed by figures produced from commissioned research--and higher return-on-investments that users can expect from deploying the new products.

Company officials also pointed to development opportunities offered by SharePoint 2010, suggesting that its internal data pegging the value of third-party service sales generated from the business collaboration platform at some $5.6 billion this year, ballooning another $1.1 billion by the end of 2011.

“With the 2010 set of products, organizations will save, innovate and grow as their people benefit from working across the PC, phone and browser,” said Stephen Elop, president, Microsoft Business Division.

Microsoft long ago removed any surprises that may have come with the introduction, as the software already has been extensively reviewed and, according to company statistics, 1,000 developers are adding custom solutions to it and about 8.6 million users have downloaded beta versions of the products.

In addition to the packaged and online Office 2010 products, Microsoft debuted Office Mobile 2010, a free upgrade for Windows Mobile 6.5 phones equipped with an earlier version of the software.

The vendor also unveiled Outlook Social Connector, a feature that provides communication history and social network feeds directly into the e-mail software. Other improvements include broadcast capabilities in PowerPoint and auto-previewing in Word.

Microsoft said that it tapped Forrester Research Inc., to construct a cost/benefit analysis of early adopters of the Office 2010 software. The IT researcher’s findings, consisting of interviews with customers, suggested that companies upgrading to the Office 2010 product would receive a 300 percent return-on-investment with payback within seven months of deployment, and save more than $13 million over a three-year period or about two work weeks per year.

The vendor said that the cloud versions of its Office 2010 applications have been endorsed by corporate customers Kraft Foods, Novartis International and mining company Codelco.


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