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Microsoft Previews Office 2010--Including Free Web Version

Yesterday, Microsoft announced some important details about Office 2010, the successor to its current, Windows-only Office 2007 due to ship sometime in the first half of next year.

Half of Microsoft's news constitutes what you'd expect out of any update to its widely used, perennially profitable productivity suite. Office 2010 will feature such changes as improved copy and paste functions in Word, new data-analysis tools in Excel, video editing in PowerPoint and a more efficient "conversation" view of e-mail messages in Outlook. The latter application will also get the new, simpler "ribbon" interface Microsoft added to most other Office applications two years ago in Office 2007.

You can watch video previews of these new features at the Redmond, Wash., company's Office 2010 page if you install its Silverlight plug-in. (Note to Microsoft PR: If you want to appeal to people who aren't using your programs now, you might not want to make them install another program of yours to view your propaganda.)

In addition, Microsoft will prune the Office family tree a bit: Instead of the eight different versions of Office 2007 available today, it will sell a mere five flavors of Office 2010. Its "home and student" version, however, will continue to leave out Outlook. Microsoft hasn't announced prices for any of these products.

But the other half of Microsoft's news is much more interesting. The company will also offer free, somewhat simplified Web-based versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. It says they'll all work in Mozilla's Firefox and Apple's Safari on any PC or Mac--a video on the Office 2010 page shows the Web edition of PowerPoint running in Firefox.

For more details on Office Web Applications, including screen shots of these programs, see TechCrunch's roundup.

It's easy to see why Microsoft had to do this, given the success Google has had with its own, free Google Documents bundle of Web-hosted word processing, spreadsheet and presentation software. But still, a part of Microsoft must have died for it to give away any version of its flagship suite.

What's your take on the news? If you use Microsoft's Office 2007, 2003 or an earlier version today, do you think you'll upgrade to one of 2010's paid, desktop editions or switch to the free Web release? What if you use Google Docs or another Web-based suite: What would it take for you to switch to Office Web Applications?

By Rob Pegoraro  |  July 14, 2009; 12:17 PM ET
Categories:  Productivity  
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It may be somewhat old and sort of disco, but I remember the song with a line that went: “You gotta change with the times.”

On Mac, I am still using 2004, while at work on the pc I am using 2003. I still hate the ribbon, and wish that it could be disabled. Install Silverlight? Ha, I’ll wait for the next version of MS Office to come out before I ever install that program.

Switch to web-based apps? I’m not ready to do that just yet. I think google has enough of my information, while you never know what MS already knows about us. The privacy issues that come along with the web apps force me to stick with desktop apps.

Posted by: ummhuh1 | July 14, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

ummhuh1 said:
Switch to web-based apps? I’m not ready to do that just yet. I think google has enough of my information, while you never know what MS already knows about us. The privacy issues that come along with the web apps force me to stick with desktop apps.

I agree with him/her. What happens on the day that you want to use your web-based app and, for some reason, your internet connection is not working. Now, you're stuck with your data in the clouds, along with the program to manipulate it. Even here at work, I tend to keep the data I am working with on my local computer. We have a good network and good IT guys, but we have had servers crash. Everybody is dead in the water until things are repaired/recovered.

Keep data and programs local.

Posted by: blasher | July 14, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

ummhuh1 and blasher share my feelings exactly. No way i will entrust some other organization to control my important data in their "cloud" - not MS, not Google, not anyone. Period.

I also use MS Office 2003 as well as Office 2004 for the Mac. I did test the later versions, but i was unimpressed, HATED the ribbon, and reverted back to the "old" Office releases. Microsoft simply offers no compelling reason to keep playing their "upgrade" game. The newer versions certainly aren't better.

Sad to see once-great Microsoft continue to flounder in its own incompetence.

Posted by: roule | July 14, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse

I'm with ummhuh1's last paragraph.

Posted by: MMRudy | July 14, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

BTW, I did pre-order Windows 7 to run on my Mac under VM Fusion. Thanks for the input from other commentors (a made up word?).

Posted by: MMRudy | July 14, 2009 3:44 PM | Report abuse

I will stick with 2003 as it is doing everything I need. I do use Google docs but only for stuff that is shared and/or we are doing joint editing. Like others, I would be concerned to put anything very important in the clouds for privacy, security, and that possible loss of connection.

Posted by: Eremita1 | July 14, 2009 5:19 PM | Report abuse

I use MSFT products at work only because they are forced upon me by my IT dept. However, at home all my software, from OS to office apps, is open source.

Posted by: rmb3302 | July 15, 2009 12:48 AM | Report abuse

I hate Micro Office 2007- especially Word- its totally impossible to format large documents- the styles don't work as well as those in previous versions, and trying to make an outline is a recipe for insanity.
Stuff just jumps around willy-nily- there is no rhyme or reason, it does not learn from its mistakes. I will never buy another MS upgrade to office.
I am ready to go back to Word 2003, or over to Mac.

Posted by: janiak | July 15, 2009 1:55 AM | Report abuse

I tried Office 2007, after 3 days of corrupted files, charts that I couldn't edit, customers that couldn't open files, inability to find most of the functions I use on a regular basis I deleted 2007 and reinstalled 2003. Our IT department here at the university has had so many complaints they have ceased installing 2007 and have configured a way to remotely uninstall 2007 and reinstall 2003. It has gotten so bad that several research groups have switched to Apple and/or are switching to Open Office. I don't know where all these rave reviews for 2007 are coming from because I don't know one person that actually "likes" 2007, tolerate yes, loathe absolutely. I work for a living and time is critical, I and my department don't have hours and hours we can dedicate to relearning Office. So if 2010 is more of 2007 then you can count me out for sure. I don't need new, I need what I have to just work and do what I want, how I want when I want and I don't have time to think about it.

Posted by: mjdobbins1 | July 15, 2009 2:01 AM | Report abuse

I use Office 97, which suits my retired life just fine. For me, upgrading would be both unnecessary and counterproductive. Why should I spend more money for the privilege of wasting time learning a new software package that does not make life better (and which might force me to get a new computer to handle the bloat)? Insanity!

Web-based applications are of no value to me because I don't need access to my files from anywhere, I do not collaborate, and I do not check my e-mail when traveling. Besides, the thought of Google's or Microsoft's having even the slightest access to my files is revolting.

Sometimes less is more.

Posted by: davebeedon | July 15, 2009 4:31 AM | Report abuse

Used to use Office 2000 and was happy with it. About four years ago I switched to Open Office initially for Windows, before I abandoned Windows for Linux.

At this stage I do not see why and how I could get back to Microsoft. I fail to see why I should have to pay them in order to do exactly the same things I can do for free.

Have seen Office 2007, I really hate the stupid Ribbon interface.

As to the cloud versions of the Office products, I could use them as an alternative way, but only when necessary.

Posted by: skata3 | July 15, 2009 5:40 AM | Report abuse


Is Outlook safe to use these days -- it never use to be -- a hackers delight.



Posted by: | July 15, 2009 5:59 AM | Report abuse

I'm a nut for privacy. Cloud computing is a security and privacy nightmare.

Let's look at the average computer user. what do they use their computers for?

1. E-mail
2. Word processing
3. Spreadsheets

Most people are really happy with XP, MS Office 2003 and an internet connection.

For the average consumenr, why mess with something that works? What is the advantage to upgrading?

Remember what happen to all of the Vista upgraders and how much fun they had, beta testing the new Windows O/S, Wincows 7.

No thank you!

Posted by: Computer_Forensics_Expert_Computer_Expert_Witness | July 15, 2009 6:01 AM | Report abuse

I love the ribbon. You guys just don't like change. Anyways, I'm looking forward to more video controls in PowerPoint. I hope they get it right. I'm sure everyone here will just keep whining whether they do it well or not.

Posted by: dkf747 | July 15, 2009 6:02 AM | Report abuse

I totally agree with most of the previous comments. Won't risk using online programs for security and stability reasons in the foreseeable future.

At work for the US government, we switched to Office 2007 about 6 months ago and I STILL can't find basic features (like Undo). I hate it so much I've started using a text editor for smaller files.

Fortunately at home I use Office for Mac 2008, which is still user friendly.

Posted by: mcriswell | July 15, 2009 6:55 AM | Report abuse

Rob, I can't believe you even waste your time to review this garbage.
Why would anyone in his/her right mind uses any junk from Garbagesoft?

I use Open Office on my Mac. No need to waste your money on any
Garbagesoft trash.

Posted by: sayNo2MS | July 15, 2009 7:56 AM | Report abuse

I use Office 2003 which is what I also used at work before I retired several years ago. I have it on my PC and two of my laptops. My 3rd laptop came with a trial version of Office 2007 which I tried and rejected. I can't imagine ever using Office 1010, and I would NEVER use web-based apps.

Posted by: solsticebelle | July 15, 2009 8:05 AM | Report abuse

I'm with everyone who will stay away from most web based apps .. at least for business.

I'm also with janiak .. when will MS turn it's apps, especially Word, over to an Apple double agent to make it FRIENDLY. Why after all these years must you know all the tricks to just set up document wide styles and rules .. even a TOC that switches to appendices, etc. There are more, weird, archaic menus and menus in menus to Word than any other MS product.

I'm also hoping Apple takes over GM but that's another story.

Maybe someday.

Posted by: tslats | July 15, 2009 8:53 AM | Report abuse

I have 2 PCs, a 10-year old with Office 97, used for my personal business (it's never been on line) and a 2009 model based on an Intel I7 chip running XP.
I attempted to port an ACCESS application to the Office 2007 version for about 30 seconds, but it didn't open the file so I said "bleep it". IF I was working in an office with a VISTA guru, I'd be productive within 6 months. IF I was willing to pay a guru (probably less than $2K) to create shortcuts, I might be OK.
I need RDB and apparently my only other option is a MySQL/php combo on the web.
I'm sure that the folks that started with 2007 are happy. To me, it's like pouring motor oil on the keys every morning before beginning.

Posted by: lrmc623 | July 15, 2009 9:00 AM | Report abuse

I still use Office 2003 on Windows XP. It does more than I need. I know several users of Office 2007 who complain it is harder than previous versions to use -- they have to use it because their companies adopted it.

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | July 15, 2009 9:32 AM | Report abuse

dkf747 you seem to miss the point. Since Office 2000, the office line has changed a little, on the grounds there was little room for improvements. Yet microsoft needs to keep changing it, for unless they do so they will not sell it to us times and times again. This is where Ribbon comes to place. They have just changed the interface to make it look new and charged the world for an entirely new product.

Had Microsoft been able to practically improve their office product line, it could be fine.

Yet bells and whistles are good only for the savages.

Posted by: skata3 | July 15, 2009 10:03 AM | Report abuse

I've been using 2007 for a year and a half now and still hate it. It's non-intuitive and I'm forever spending *lots* of time trying to figure out how to do things (often unsuccessfully) that I used to be able to do easily and intuitively in '97. In fact the only reason I changed to '07 was to be able to sync with Outlook, a decision made that I'm still not sure was the right one. Cloud computing? You can't be serious. Another gimmick to make our software less useful, more problematic and spend money to make it so. Give me a break!
(confession - I still have '97 on my machine and often use it when I'm just not in the mood to be aggravated by '07)(and I've tried Open Office but have found too many limitations with it.)

Posted by: rsh43 | July 15, 2009 10:09 AM | Report abuse

What I fail to understand is why Microsoft doesn't make the old menus available for those who would rather use what they have known for years, rather than learn the infernal ribbons. Would it be that difficult?
I am left with the feeling that the Office Developers in Redmond have decided that they are right and to hell with the millions of people who invested all their time to learn the earlier versions of Office.

Posted by: shambalad | July 15, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Office web-based apps are wide-open to opposed to desktop oriented office software.

Microsoft is losing ground and I'm glad. they have more updates on software programs that were ONCE already strong. Now in a panic mode, they continue to want to believe they aren't losing ground...but Google is scaring the crap out of these guys...and good riddance!

But I have no need to use web-based office anything....isn't it enough that Vista users are already virtually letting the world see them everytime they log on? And that IS desktop-based! *spanks own hand*

Posted by: cbmuzik | July 15, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Word 03 and 07 both have two features that are needlessly complicated and incredibly infuriating. I'm talking about the table of contents feature and the page numbering feature. The TOC function is actually 2 different processes that are actually painful. Then there's the page numbering which is awful if you want to have cover pages and other introductory material first.

It seems like somebody at MS had to actually try to make those features that bad. I would actually pay for Office '10 if those are easy to use, b/c I've had way too much trouble trying to get formatting to work when deadlines are fast approaching.

If you haven't tried it, OneNote is awesome. Especially if you're in school.

Posted by: Booyah5000 | July 15, 2009 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Office 2007's ribbon is very intuitive. I absolutely cannot go back to non-ribbon Office.

Posted by: random123 | July 15, 2009 11:13 AM | Report abuse

With the exception of Gmail, I'm simply not into so-called cloud computing; so no, I will be sticking with 3, thankyouverymuch.

Posted by: nbahn | July 15, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

One thing I would like to see in Excel: the ability to save a complex file back to XML. Excel seems to be able to open such a file (very slowly), correctly parsing all the data. For my use, it would be helpful to be able to edit large quantities of data in Excel. Actually I can do this very well in Excel '07 now and can save it as an Excel file, but not back to XML. If Excel can accurately parse the file to open it how much more difficult can it be to save it back to .xml? Of course that would mean actually giving us something useful - a concept seemingly alien to the folks in Redmond.

Posted by: rsh43 | July 15, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Please, for the love of God, can't Microsoft fix the way Word handles bullets and numberings? We use Office 2003 in our office. I can't tell you how many times I've banged my keyboard in frustration because the bullet is too far to the left or the right, and Word flat-out refuses to let me fix it.

A close second in frustration is when you insert a picture, then try to move or resize it, and it either disappears into the aether or it jumps a couple of pages away. I've figured out a way to work around that, but it still is frustrating.

In general, I think that Microsoft ought to worry less about adding on bells and whistles, and more about stripping down these programs and streamlining them for greater functionality.

One last little suggestion: in OpenOffice, when you first open up a document, the "save" button is grayed out (you can still do a "save as"). It's only when you first make a change to the document that the "save" button is ungrayed. I find that feature to be quite useful and wish Microsoft would copy it.

Posted by: marclips | July 15, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Hey, try Open Office. It's FREE and it does everything MS Office does. It's GREAT! I love it.

Posted by: mrsltc1 | July 15, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse

You people who proudly state your use of Word 2003 aren't nearly retro enough. I'm still happy with 2002, an update of Word 97. Tried Office 2007 and uninstalled in three days. The ribbon is ridiculous.

Posted by: lienkirk | July 15, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Amen to the comment on Word's TOC function, or should I say functionless. It's as bad as the old print routine in Lotus - one can spend an entire day trying to get it to work.

Posted by: brookman1 | July 15, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Am using Office 97. Does what I want. Why update?

Posted by: fatherbill00 | July 15, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Lots of tin-foil hat comments, but the WaPo demographic is skewed older I guess.

First, we're talking free in the cloud versus pay. Some of us appreciate the opportunity to not spend our money.

Second, who says you can't keep the files on your computer after you use the Web interface to create/edit them? Do you think that you are not allowed to keep copies? Obviously if you are frequently without an Internet connection you won't want to rely on Web apps, but are you oblivious to the growth of netbooks and smartphones? If you have unreliable Internet, you are doing something terribly wrong.

Third, ever had your hard drive crash? Copies of your stuff would have been much safer in the cloud.

Finally, viruses and botnets are a bigger problem than Google or MS using your data to do evil things. Save that argument for talk radio.

Come on, get with it, folks.

Posted by: Dawny_Chambers | July 15, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

geez most of the posters here sound like grumpy old men/women :)

It's different? Well you can keep your durn fangled new contraption and i'll stick with my 386 and wordperfect 5.0 for DOS!

(just kidding everybody) :D

Posted by: orangefh | July 15, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Well.. I like Office 2007.. Don't like Vista, but love windows 7.. I find that when using Office 2007 I work faster.. I used to spend a long time hunting for things in the old style meneus.. not with Office 2007.. and that's exactly why MS changed to the ribbon.. they went to market and asked peopel what functions they wanted in Office.. and 90% of the functions were already tehre.. just hidden.. so they made the functions more accessible.. I wonder why they didn't leave in the ability to go back to the old style.. as that obviously annoyed a few people..


Posted by: theursulus | July 15, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

unbelievable... all the posts seem to come from Mac users. What, you guys got nothing better to do?

It amuses me to no end to hear people complain about change. I love orangefh's comments. While you haters are at it, dust off that abacus and analog TV!

And what is with the person saying they can't find the 'undo' button? Good gracious, it's default position is right at the top of the ribbon!

Posted by: kooljay22 | July 15, 2009 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Undo - pretty much every program in windows - control+z


Posted by: bs2004 | July 15, 2009 6:12 PM | Report abuse

kooljay22 said: unbelievable... all the posts seem to come from Mac users. What, you guys got nothing better to do?

After I switched to mac I gained at least an hour a day by not having to fight with Windows and Windows programs. So I guess we do have more time.

Posted by: jblatt | July 15, 2009 7:55 PM | Report abuse

Office 2007 SUCKS. 2003 is so much better, I have a hard time believing 2010 will be much better. I think the Office suites are what is eventually going to do them in vs google...seriously, who wants to pay 150$ for a freaking word processor and spreadsheet app?

Posted by: BMACattack | July 15, 2009 7:57 PM | Report abuse

And dude, office 2008 for Macs are a joke! Just use iWork, x10 times better!

Posted by: BMACattack | July 15, 2009 7:58 PM | Report abuse

I work for state government and we're still using Windows XP Pro and Office 2003. This package seems to do everything we need and I haven't heard anything about upgrading yet. I wonder if web based applications will ever be as fast and feature rich as the workstation based ones.

Posted by: brewstercounty | July 15, 2009 8:12 PM | Report abuse

One thing Microsoft does not seem to understand is that when people use apps at work they are heavily invested in them, and when a new version comes along, it is not worth it to switch even if the new version is somewhat better, because of the very great disruption to work that comes from having to learn a new application. So if they ask you to switch to Word 2007 or 2010, your first question ought to be, what do I get from the switch that makes it worth the fuss? I still use Word and Outlook 2003 at work because I am forced to. I think Outlook is a terrible program and I would be glad to invest time to learn how to use something better. But I am unaware of significant improvements in Word since 2003 and so I don't see why I ought to invest the time to learn a new version of it, even if some say that there is some improvement in ease or efficiency (which people really do not say, at least not many of them), because I know that there will be a lengthy time of decreased efficiency and productivity while I tried to learn it. I think Microsoft is in , or has put itself it, a sort of difficult spot. If they make gradual changes it is hard to get people to pay a lot for those, but if they make major changes then the need to learn those is disruptive and not worth it unless there are clear and compelling benefits, which they don't seem to be able to come up with because the product is mature.

Posted by: danjose | July 15, 2009 9:27 PM | Report abuse

Some of these comments are pretty funny. Let's get one thing clear - I have been using Office products since 1995. I've literally built a career on the old interface - I have a bit invested in the older way of doing things too.

But the simple fact is that no software company that wants a future is going to devote itself to users who refuse to adopt new and better practices. Yes, you are accustomed to doing things this way and that's fine. And yes, it is costly for you to adapt. But for a new user, the new way is better, and that is where future revenues come from.

Until you are ready for retirement do not forget that your 23 year old competitors are eager to learn the new way of doing things. Whether you are used to some other way simply doesn't matter because they are new and will do what it takes.

Posted by: JeffRandom | July 15, 2009 10:02 PM | Report abuse

it better be good. microsoft wants to match google doc for a while. do not put it as new/news. so disappointing with Hotmail Office.
don't put these news as big and new. Microsoft Office perhaps need to shake off from Windows or MSOffice to just lift off to web. "old heads r diff fr new heads."

click me, my site is odd, need to think,

Posted by: aooi5 | July 15, 2009 11:20 PM | Report abuse

iWork is great & half the price, so I didn't even think about using office for mac. Not to mention export to PDF! I will try office live 2010 because they are building everything into a live format now. MS most probably would have so many complaints about office if it was reasonable priced. Home users complain, small business owners complain or buy home & student to stick it the man. Even with ribbon complaints, if office were more competitively priced more people may upgrade. Can I say that build presentations in keynote & spreadsheets in numbers is drag n drop terrific.

Posted by: fr1chise | July 16, 2009 1:04 AM | Report abuse

I use a product that provides online editing and collaboration of Excel files today. I hope 2010 is a good.

Posted by: scarletb | July 16, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

We here at SparkWords have been talking about this. How secure will the online version of Microsoft Office 2010 be? Because really, Twitter was hacked because their company was using Google Apps for their internal documents...and that Google uses email password protection for users to gain access. It was way too easy since most people use simple remember-password suggestions to gain access (What's my place of birth? First car? etc.)

You can read up what our followers are recommending here at

Posted by: Sparkster | July 17, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

It seems like every single one of the complaints about Office 2007 boils down to that it is different from the versions that people have used for years. That's called CHANGE, Obama voters. This sounds just like the people who bought a VISTA computer and then loaded XP on it because VISTA was different. Hopefully these people will never have a neighbor who paints their house a different color.

I'm not big on them moving things all around from what I was familiar with either but that is what happens as time moves on. I have to wonder how long these luddites are going to be able to use their obsolete software before either their current hardware dies or their new hardware won't support it. My personal favorite word processor software was WordStar in DOS but that was in 1984. I have stopped crying over its demise.

Microsoft's official word was that the "ribbon" was created because Word (and maybe the other Office programs) had become so 'feature dense' that it was necessary to wade through many levels of menus to get at certain functions. The "ribbon" was supposed to put the most used features front and center and to be more intuitive. There comes a time when the existing paradigm becomes unwieldy and something new is necessary. Did Microsoft hit a home run --- doubtful but at least they tried a "reboot". Since there is no chance that they are going back to the older versions, try to learn the newer versions or end up left behind cursing those durn automatic transmisions and complaining that stick shifts worked just fine and cost less.

For the OpenOffice nuts... That's fine until you have to share files with anyone in the real world (or work on a company computer that is under configuration control and uses some version of Office).

Personally my job is doing UNIX System Administration so I can't understand why people need anything other than the "vi" editor (and what is this whole "mouse" thing for????).

Posted by: oldno7 | July 17, 2009 7:46 PM | Report abuse

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