By the time you read this article, Microsoft will have released their new version of Microsoft Office, Microsoft Office 2010. As with every new version of Office, many new features have been added. I’m not going to spend time here going over these features — you can see some of them in this demo Microsoft.com. What I do want to talk about here are the different versions of Office 2010, licensing, as well as the ways you can go about getting 2010.
As with every iteration of Office, there are multiple versions available; I’ve listed the most common ones below (and I’ve omitted the academic versions in this list).
1. Microsoft Office 2010 Starter Edition – this version of Office will be included only on new PC’s (e.g. the ones you buy from Dell, Best Buy or other large retailers). It is a scaled-down version of Office that is designed to replace Microsoft Works. In addition the Starter edition will be ad supported. The idea here is that this version of Office will be adequate for users who need only to work with basic office tasks. If you want more functionality or to remove the ads, you will need to upgrade to a higher version.
2. Microsoft Office 2010 Home and Student Edition – this version includes Word, Excel, Powerpoint and OneNote. It is for non-commercial use and the family pack allows for installation in up to three home PCs.
3. Microsoft Office 2010 Home and Business Edition – licensed for commercial use, this version includes all of the products listed above but adds Outlook. Note that OneNote 2007 was only available in Office 2007 Ultimate Edition or as a individual purchase.
Office 2010 products will be available as boxed retail products with a DVD, or downloadable with a product key card. At this point the basic understanding is that the retail boxed DVD version will allow users to install the software on two computers (one desktop and one laptop owned/used by the same person). The product key card is less expensive than the boxed DVD version, but some confusion about licensing has emerged. It appears that this version is slated for use on a single machine — but questions have arisen over installation issues — such as will you be able to install this version if you purchase a new computer and want to install it on the new computer (and of course erase it from the old one)? And will you be able to reinstall windows and then reinstall this version on your reinstalled machine? (As a basis of comparison, I recall that with Adobe CS3 products, you were allowed to activate the software on two computers — a laptop and a desktop — but that you had the ability to deactivate the software prior to reinstalls or moving machines). So before your purchase either version of Office, I would make sure you clearly understand the licensing and wait until Microsoft makes it clear how licensing will work.
Getting Office 2010
The two most common ways that people will get Office 2010 is either through the purchase of a new computer that has Office preinstalled, or via retail box purchase. Note that there will be no upgrade versions available for Office 2010. This new pricing scheme presents a problem for many users who are using older versions of Office (even 2007) who don’t fee like plunking down $150 or $280 for the two major versions of the product. Microsoft is currently offering a special whereby if you purchase Office 2007 in the near future (check the dates) then they will give you a free upgrade to Office 2010. Otherwise there seems to be no way to upgrade and you will need to purchase a full version if you don’t wind up getting Office 2010 with the purchase of a new machine.