On Wednesday, Microsoft launched its new Office software, Office 2010, for business customers. The launch included both the desktop-based software as well as the highly-anticipated online component, Office Web Apps. Non-business customers will get the upgrade June 15th, when Office 2010 becomes available to retail stores, small businesses and individual customers.
Although this marks the first official public availability of Office 2010, there were already 8.6 million users of the platform thanks to the software’s beta program, one of the largest ever. It had three times the number of participants as the Office 2007 beta, for example.
Most of the new features in Office 2010 are already known, courtesy of beta testers, reviewers and journalists. The most notable changes, (besides, of course, the web apps) include the refined Ribbon interface and the introduction of the ribbon to Outlook, the Backstage View (which replaces the “Office” menu in Office 2007), the Outlook social connector (which integrates social networking into email) and improved collaboration features. (We did a top 10 reasons you’ll love it earlier – check it out here).
The change people are probably most excited about, though, is the introduction of Office Web Apps. This online version of the Office software, works in many different browsers, including IE, Safari and Firefox and across operating systems, too. Yes, even Linux. A Silverlight version will also be available which offers a few more features, like sharper images and improved rendering, but usage of Silverlight is optional. More importantly, the Web Apps promise better document fidelity, says Microsoft, between desktop and cloud. You can see a demo of this in action, courtesy of Microsoft’s Alex Payne, here.