Microsoft revealed yesterday that the Office 2010 family of products has been released to manufacturing (RTM):
I am very excited to share some great news with you. Earlier today we reached the release-to-manufacturing (RTM) milestone for Office 2010, SharePoint 2010, Visio 2010 and Project 2010!
So when they actually be available?
Our Volume License customers with active Software Assurance (SA) on these products will be one of the first to receive the 2010 set of products. They will be able to download the products in English via the Volume Licensing Service Center starting April 27. Customers without SA will be able to purchase the new products through Volume Licensing from Microsoft partners starting May 1.
Earlier this year we announced that we will officially launch Office 2010 to our business customers on May 12 with Stephen Elop, President of Microsoft’s Business Division, delivering a keynote as part of our virtual launch. Our virtual launch will allow people from around the globe to participate in our launch by going to http://www.the2010event.com. The virtual launch site will showcase product demos, customer and partner testimonials, and interviews with product managers and executives, and we hope this will give you another great way to explore, learn, and get excited about the 2010 releases.
Office 2010 will first become available in retail stores in June in the US, and customers can pre-order Office 2010 today at the Microsoft Store to receive Office when it becomes available.
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.
Microsoft is rolling out the PR for Office 2010 (formerly Office 14) and Exchange 2010:
We’re announcing that Microsoft will begin releasing new versions of Office-related products this year. Exchange 2010 will be the first product in this lineup, entering beta for customers to download today. Exchange 2010 will become available in the second half of 2009. Office 2010 — including Office Web applications, SharePoint Server 2010, Visio 2010 and Project 2010 — will enter a technical preview in the third quarter of 2009 and will release to manufacturing in the first half of 2010.
So what goodies does Microsoft have for users of Exchange 2010 and Office 2010 (which reportedly will have both 32 and 64-bit versions)? Well, that’s a bit hard to discern amidst the flummery, but beyond the improved Outlook Web Access Webmail client, one other theme seems clear:
IT professionals will have more flexibility and choice to simplify deployment and lower management costs, while maintaining control. For example, Exchange 2010 and SharePoint Server 2010 give users the same value whether deployed on-premises, as a service from Microsoft and industry partners, or a mix of both.
As for the Exchange 2010 beta:
Exchange 2010 is part of the next wave of Microsoft Office-related products and is the first server in a new generation of Microsoft server technology built from the ground up to work on-premises and as an online service. This release of Exchange 2010 introduces a new integrated e-mail archive and features to help reduce costs and improve the user experience. A public beta of the server is available for download starting today at http://www.microsoft.com/exchange/2010.
There is a full laundry list of new Exchange 2010 features at the link, not a few of which are rather obscure.
Microsoft apparently wowed the crowd today at the Microsoft Office Project Conference in Seattle with demos of features of a new version of Office Project coming at some unspecified time in the future: