Free Microsoft Office 2010 — With Ads
So long Microsoft Works. Say hello to Office 2010 Starter Edition. Heading in a new direction, selected PC makers will likely bundle the new Office starter offering with new PCs later this year. Office 2010 Starter Edition is a stripped down and ad-supported — but totally free — version of Office 2010, the forthcoming upgrade to Microsoft’s ubiquitous productivity suite.
Perhaps they heard us lament a bit about the pricing on the OEM versions? Here are some more details.
Office 2010 Starter Edition consists solely of Word 2010 and Excel 2010. It’s not even the full versions: their functionality will be limited in soon-to-be-seen ways. For better or for worse, it’ll use the same “ribbon” interface as the rest of the lineup, and will apparently offer the ability to upgrade to a full version of Microsoft Office from within the program. We’re wondering: will it integrate with Office Web, the upcoming browser-based cloud version of the suite?
Although Office 2010 Starter Edition carries that “free” price tag, most VARs shouldn’t have a problem selling SMBs on one of the other Office SKUs with new hardware, given that the free version lacks corporate favorites Microsoft Powerpoint, Microsoft Access, and especially Microsoft Outlook.
While Microsoft Works definitely needed to go, opinions about Office 2010 Starter Edition vary. My editor, Joe Panettieri, likes Microsoft’s freemium strategy with Office 2010 Starter Edition. But I have to question the Redmond giant’s wisdom in this move.
Remember: Microsoft also plans to offer a $100 Office 2010 version aimed at university students – but so many students buy new computers before they go off to college, and don’t need anything other than basic versions of Word and Excel. Besides, many schools give their students free or deeply discounted copies of Office anyway. It seems like Microsoft is segmenting their own market…
Testing Office Web
On a brief tangent, I’ve been playing with an early preview version of Office Web Apps. While the most basic functionality isn’t in place yet — you can’t currently make or edit Word documents in the browser — I’ve gotten enough of a taste to tell you that writing a document in the Word 2010 beta and saving it to the cloud to edit later or to invite other collaborators is going to be a feature that sells a lot of people on the concept of software as a service (SaaS).
Expect more about Office 2010 and Office Web as it gets closer to curtain.