Office 2010 now available as Technical Preview

New Orleans (LA) – A new Windows usually also brings a new Office suite. With Windows 7 and its task to replace Windows Vista as quickly as possible, Office 2010 isn’t quite ready yet, but can now be tested by a few selected users within Microsoft’s Technical Preview program. The final version is due in the first half of 2010, the company said.

For its next iteration, Microsoft has chopped the number of Office editions from eight to five and will be offering users free online access to Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook through Windows Live. Additionally, there will be on-premises access for all Office volume licensing customers as well as a fee-based subscription as part of a hosted offering. Starting today, “tens of thousands of users” can test Office and Visio as part of a technical preview program including Office 2010, SharePoint Server 2010, Visio 2010 and Project 2010, Microsoft said.

“Office 2010 is the premier productivity solution across PCs, mobile phones* and browsers,” said Chris Capossela, senior vice president of the Microsoft Business Division at Microsoft. “From broadcast and video editing in PowerPoint, new data visualization capabilities in Excel, and co-authoring in Word, we are delivering technology to help people work smarter and faster from virtually any location using any device.”

In fact, Microsoft will be carefully testing the cloud opportunities of its productivity suite, with Office Web applications that are described as “lightweight Web browser versions of Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote”. Microsoft promises that these applications are powerful enough to “provide access to documents from virtually anywhere and preserve the look and feel of a document regardless of device.”

Also new are co-authoring features in Microsoft Word 2010, Microsoft PowerPoint 2010 and Microsoft OneNote 2010, as well as “advanced e-mail management and calendaring capabilities in Microsoft Outlook 2010, including the option for users to ”ignore” unwanted threads.” Powerpoint 2010 will deliver a new Backstage view mode that will allow for “easy document preparation” as well as Sparklines in Microsoft Excel 2010 to visualize data and spot trends more quickly.  

Office 2010 will ship in the first half of 2010, Microsoft said.