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Users will make contact with the new version of Microsoft Office in early 2010.  (Source: Wired)

Microsoft Chris Capossela is heading the development of Office 2010.  (Source: Microsoft)
Ready to burn up Office tasks, the first bits of Office 14, are coming this year, branded as Office 2010 products

Microsoft's industry leading document and productivity suite, Microsoft Office, has seen new competition from the likes of Mozilla (Thunderbird), Open Office, Google (Google Docs, GMail), and others.  However, Microsoft continues to lead the way in both revenue and user base, and is working hard to push the boundaries of the Office product.

Today it announced in an exclusive Q&A article the official release details on the successor to Office 2007, Office 2010.  Most important is that it is coming soon -- this year.  The first of its components will land with Exchange 2010, set for the second half of the year.  The rest of Office 2010 — including Office Web applications, SharePoint Server 2010, Visio 2010 and Project 2010 will be released as a technical preview in third quarter of 2009, much like the Windows 7 beta program.  The finished products will ship in the first half of 2010.

A big focus of the new suite is to provide a cohesive platform across an increasingly mobile computing world.  While traditional versions will be included for installation on PCs and laptops, the Office suite will also be available as internet applications and on mobile phones, including, reportedly, the iPhone

Microsoft's Chris Capossela, senior vice president of Microsoft’s Information Worker Product Management Group, describes, "With these new products we are giving people a familiar interface across PCs, mobile phones and browsers to make it even easier for them to create, communicate and collaborate from any location. IT professionals will benefit from a choice of new delivery and new licensing models as well as from improved management options to better control costs, and enhanced security across all locations. And through our integrated infrastructure, businesses can more easily deploy, manage and help secure corporate assets and comply with government regulations."

Another concern for Microsoft has been to make its APIs friendlier to developers.  It says it has made considerable advances towards making its Office APIs standards compliant and more accessible.  As evidences by the success of Yahoo Widgets in the TV world or Apple's iPhone, having a solid set of APIs can make (or break) a product, these days.

Security also is a focus of the new suite.  It looks to close past security openings and provide a fundamentally more secure architecture.  This is especially important as Microsoft moves to a mixed deployment for Exchange 2010 and SharePoint Server 2010, both with local offerings, and for central online offerings, via its cloud computing/serving business.

Exchange 2010 -- the Office email software -- is one program that got special TLC from Microsoft.  The company has been actively testing it since October 2007, and has deployed it at 2,000 universities, with over 2 million active users.  With this strategy Microsoft is confident that it is very ready for even the largest business deployments.

The testing also allowed it to add many new and useful features to the software.  Writes Mr. Capossela:

Among the new benefits that help people save time and money, Exchange 2010 introduces a personal e-mail archive to not only address compliance and regulatory needs by making mail easier to manage and search across the organization, but which frees up space on production servers and improves performance. Customers can lower costs by replacing their traditional voice mail system with Exchange 2010’s unified messaging solution that now provides text previews of voice mail messages so users may act upon them accordingly, directly from their mailbox. It also introduces new capabilities through Outlook 2010 that combine related messages into a single conversation with the added option to remove oneself from irrelevant e-mail threads. Another addition is the new Mail Tips feature, which will warn users from making embarrassing missteps before they hit send on problem e-mails — such as accidentally e-mailing a big distribution list or sending e-mail when a recipient is out of office, not to mention reducing extra steps and calls to the helpdesk. Those are features I’m sure we can all appreciate.

Another interesting tidbit is that as part of Exchange 2010, Microsoft will be adding Outlook 2010 to Mozilla's Firefox and Apple's Safari browsers, traditional competitors to its internet explorer.  The third party browsers will now have full access to Office Outlook Web Access with Office Communicator Web Access.  If nothing else, this should go a ways towards getting the EU and other antitrust regulators of Microsoft's back in terms of browser competition.

While most users and developers will have to wait a few more months to officially get their hands on the Office 2010 technical preview, Microsoft's early description of the product certainly sounds appealing.  Simply the ability to have a copy of Office for smart phones suitable for full viewing and minor editing of documents would be enough to broaden Microsoft's user base (many Office readers are already offered, but most lack the ability to properly read more complex documents, and lack significant editing capabilities).

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RE: Open Office....
By TomZ on 4/15/2009 8:40:43 PM , Rating: 5
One small shop has saved about $3000 by using Open office rather than MS... and they don't have problems.
That small of a savings could quickly get wiped out by productivity differences between the two.

We seriously looked at OO a couple years ago, and we decided it was okay for occasional at-home use, but it was useless for business use. Considering the functionality in MS Office, the cost is pretty cheap. I know lots and lots of people who spend the majority of their computer time in Office applications. It's far and away the most important software loaded on most people's machines, at least in business.

RE: Open Office....
By mondo1234 on 4/16/2009 12:21:44 AM , Rating: 4
Most businesses buy the professional versions with Access and it will jack up the price of a basic system faster than buying a Mac [sarcasm].

Honestly, OO 3.0 is much better than 2.0 of a couple of years ago. I exchange office docs between many businesses with OO at home and hardly notice a difference. I just set the prefs to open and save in MS compatible formats (.doc, .xls, .ppt) and usually dont have a problem. My kid built a 150 MB Impress (Powerpoint) presentation that opened with MS Powerpoint at school. It ran without a hitch. Now that MS is going more towards odf formats, cross platform will only get better.

Word processors should be like browsers, they are staple programs that haven't changed all that much in the past 5-10 years, just new interfaces, ribbons ect.
You can polish a word processor all you want, but it's still just a word processor.

If you are a diehard MS fan, you might not like it. I dont think OO 3 is quite as polished as MS Office, but I do think its good enough for me.

RE: Open Office....
By CSMR on 4/16/2009 9:08:00 AM , Rating: 2
Word processors are word processors (unless they can add WYSIWYM elements), but there's a lot you can still do with communications/scheduling (Outlook) and note-taking (Onenote). These were very good in Office 2007 and can still get quite a bit better.

RE: Open Office....
By Aloonatic on 4/16/2009 3:06:10 AM , Rating: 1
I think you are right and wrong, in equal measure as it very much depends on what people require their office suite to do.

I work in the small business sector and the majority of people simply need a word processor that is easy to use and sorts their spelling mistakes out and a very basic spread sheet.

In larger business with more specialised people working on more complicated and larger projects it is clear that the extra money spent on MS's office offerings are well worth it however.

To sum up this comment. It's horses for courses but many people have become used to MS's office because it is all they have known yet OO will probably do more than they need and will be suitable. it's not for everyone but their are savings to be made, assuming you aren't using a pirated version of office 200x that is, then it doesn't really matter. :D

RE: Open Office....
By Murloc on 4/16/2009 5:31:22 AM , Rating: 1
companies will care about productivity and will pay their licenses in no time because of the productivity increase, but a home user wants free things and doesn't use most of the features.

I think OO is not aimed at businesses with money.

RE: Open Office....
By tastyratz on 4/17/2009 9:02:25 AM , Rating: 2
I think the better way to put it is OO has not yet built enough business consumer confidence and become feature rich enough to be attractive to large business.

OO is a great suite, and you certainly can not get the price - just like linux...

The savings in licensing costs are easily negated through corporate wide training sessions and learning curve operational efficiency when switching the largest application used in a big company. Office is the devil they know, and the costs are up front instead of later.

RE: Open Office....
By Belard on 5/6/2009 5:06:57 AM , Rating: 2
NO, differnet business / offices / users have different needs and budgets.

A small business that barely needs an Office suite, OO is perfect... its $0. And it does everything they need. Saves thousands of dollars for features not needed or ever used.

Another office, they use MS-2003 on everything and use it far more... it was never a question to every try to put them on OO.

For most people and offices, if letter writing and spreadsheet functions is all they need, then OO works fine. Millions of people use OO every day.

I still use MS-Office2000 because (A) I don't need to spend $$ on 2003 or 2007. (B) It does everything I need. Buy my son uses Open Office because he doesn't need MS-Office ability... he's 4. :)

"People Don't Respect Confidentiality in This Industry" -- Sony Computer Entertainment of America President and CEO Jack Tretton

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