Today Microsoft unveiled an invited beta program for Office 2010 (codenamed Office 14):
Today, at its Worldwide Partner Conference 2009, Microsoft Corp. announced that Microsoft Office 2010, Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010, Microsoft Visio 2010 and Microsoft Project 2010 have reached the technical preview engineering milestone. Starting today, tens of thousands of people will be invited to test Office and Visio as part of the Technical Preview program.
It’s a private beta limited to invitees, the beta code will apparently not be available until August, and the final products won’t be available until the first half of 2010. You can find out about the usual incremental Office improvements at the Office 2010 Web site, but the biggest buzz is about the Web versions tentatively named Office Web applications (although Microsoft is looking for a new name):
Office Web applications — the lightweight Web browser versions of Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote — that provide access to documents from virtually anywhere and preserve the look and feel of a document regardless of device.
The company also announced that Office Web applications will be available in three ways: through Windows Live, where more than 400 million 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.
So Microsoft has bitten the bullet and will go free on the Web version of their Office cash cow and the lines are drawn with Google Apps and the other free online office software competitors. Of course, Microsoft really didn’t have much choice if they wanted anyone to pay attention. Stay tuned for a raft of side-by-side comparisons and feature wrangling among the players.
Last week’s rumor of an impending free Google online presentation offering was realized today when Google today announced that they had brought presentations to Google Docs and Google Apps:
The Inquirer reports some buzz that Google is privately showing off a presentation package called Presently which is similar to Microsoft Office’s PowerPoint, but online of course. That such an offering was in the works to round out Google Docs and Spreadsheets (and Google Apps) has been no surprise since Google acquired software developers Zenter and Tonic Systems earlier this year. I’m sure it won’t be billed by Google as a PowerPoint killer, but like all the Google Docs applications the emphasis will be on sharing and ubiquity of use. Still, it is just one more reason for Microsoft to be nervous.
Today Google announced that it had acquired the assets of Zenter, a small software developer, whose IP rounds out that obtained in the earlier acquisition of Tonic Systems in providing an online clone of Microsoft’s offline Office PowerPoint presentation development and display package.