Lots of great alternatives to Microsoft’s deluxe office suite have emerged over the past few years, but if you find yourself only occasionally in need of a tool to edit Word or Excel files, the hefty $159 price tag for the full home and student edition can be a bit hard to justify. Google Docs or even Microsoft’s own online versions of office can help in a pinch, but nothing quite matches the native experience you get from running the desktop app. If the above scenario describes you, click here to download a copy of Office 2010 Starter Edition for absolutely free.
Office 14 (2010) has only been out a few months now, but a leaked pre-alpha build of Office 15 suggests that Microsoft is planning a new application known at this point only as “Microsoft Lime”. Very little is known about Lime at this point, however ZDnet blogger Mary Jo Foley claims her contacts describe it as a “user-interface utility for Office”.
Based on this description it is hard to tell if Microsoft Lime will indeed be a stand-alone application, or perhaps just a new feature similar to the ribbon. The speculation was further heightened by a Linked-In profile update from a former Microsoft Intern who claims he helped work on a “major new feature” in the upcoming Office 15.
It’s hard to imagine what if anything Microsoft could add or change to make Office anymore capable than it already is. They clearly have some work to do tying together their online and offline offerings, but it doesn’t sound like Lime is it. Office 15 probably won’t ship until at least 2013, so we have plenty of time to speculate on this one. Anyone care to guess what the new application might be?
Microsoft’s performance during the fourth quarter not only exceeded the Street’s expectations but also saved some blushes. The Redmond-based company earned $16.04 billion in revenue, a 22% rise compared to the same period last year, and enough to get it past Apple’s quarterly revenue of $15.7 billion. The Street had foreseen Apple bettering Microsoft’s quarterly revenue for the first time ever, but MS had other plans.
Windows 7 continued its stellar performance during the quarter and, along with Office 2010, accounted for a large part of the company’s growth. “We saw strong sales execution across all of our businesses, particularly in the enterprise with Windows 7 and Office 2010,” said Kevin Turner, chief operating officer.
According to a press release issued by the company, “Operating income, net income and diluted earnings per share for the quarter were $5.93 billion, $4.52 billion and $0.51 per share, which represented increases of 49%, 48% and 50%, respectively, when compared with the prior year period.”
Having trouble wrapping your head around Microsoft's Office 2010 suite? Before you plunk down a wad of cash at your local bookstore for an instructional book, give Microsoft's free materials a try.
Novices will want to start with First Look: Microsoft Office 2010, a 186-page ebook in PDF format. This one goes over the changes introduced in Office 2010 and covers each of the apps.
For those will a little more experience under their belt, Getting Started with Microsoft Office 2010 offers a bit more meat for IT types. This one is available in Word, PDF, and XPS formats, and checks in at 259 pages.
Microsoft's latest productivity suite's first few weeks on the market have been disappointing, according to Stephen Baker, NPD Group's VP of industry analysis. The market research firm's Weekly Tracking Service found Office 2010 trailing its predecessor, both in terms of unit sales and revenue, when only the first two weeks were considered.
Baker blamed Office 2010's lackluster start to the fact that it was “launched into a saturated market” and that too in the middle of a “seasonally slow period for PC purchases which have, over time, proven to be a have a strong impact on Office sales.” However, Microsoft can take heart from that fact that Office 2010 has improved upon Office 2007's sales pattern so far this year.
“Office 2007 was a radical new design that certainly helped deliver a lot of curious buyers and it was launched nearly parallel with Vista, adding a good deal of promotional activity in the software aisle, both of which likely helped drive initial sales of Office 2007,” Baker wrote in a blog post. “While Office 2010 has many compelling new features, it is always an uphill battle to sell a high installed base product based on new features alone.”
The analyst sees tremendous promise in the key card program, which lets users activate Office 2010 on preloaded machines using a product key (no disc required). Baker revealed that the key card program currently accounts for “about one-third of the unit volume.”
Baker does not foresee web-based productivity applications posing any real threat to Office 2010 in the immediate future: “Over time it is certainly likely that we will see some slowdown in retail sales as consumers alter their productivity software habits, but that time is not now. Mainstream consumers have not embraced the concept of the cloud, nor are they likely in the short to mid-term, making most of the questions around free software moot.”
Microsoft earlier this week launched its certification program for its Office 2010 productivity suite, providing would-be Office gurus with three levels of mastery. These include Specialist, Expert, and Master.
According to Lutz Ziob, general manager of Microsoft Learning., this year's MOS program was designed to highlight mobility in Microsoft apps.
"Office 2010 frees users from one computer, or even one type of access device," Ziob explains. "Through Office 2010 you can access your documents through either your smartphone or PC."
Microsoft says its MOS certification program is now in its 10th year and offered in over 140 countries.
There has been a slight jump in comparisons between Google Docs and Microsoft’s wildly popular Office productivity suite, mainly due to the launch of Office 2010 earlier in the week. The comparison is barely justifiable as the numbers decisively favor the latter. But numbers seldom tell the whole story - Docs does have its moments.
Docs has traditionally excelled in areas such as collaboration and sharing. Google has just announced new upgrades to make sharing easier in Docs. Users can now choose among three visibility options: “Private,” “Anyone with a link” or “Public on the web.” All documents are marked as private to begin with.
If you opt to make a particular document visible to anyone who knows its URL, “you can better control who has access to your doc” by resetting the link whenever necessary.
Forget about that paltry 30-day window you have to activate your copy of Office 2010, because if you want to, you can extend the trial for up to six months, Microsoft recently confirmed on its TechNet site. Here's how you do it:
Make sure all office 2010 applications are closed
Open an elevated command prompt (Click Start, type CMD, right-click cmd.exe and select Run as administrator)
Go to %installdir%\%Program Files%\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\OfficeSoftwareProtectionPlatform. If you installed the 32-bit edition of Office 2010 on a 64-bit operating system, %Program Files% is the Program Files (x86) folder.
The above rearm trick can be used up to five times, and if used at the tail-end of each 30-day grace period, you can run Office 2010 for up to 180 days without inputting an activation key. The rearm feature is primarily aimed at enterprise admins using a single copy or image to deploy a supported OS and accompanying software on hundreds of PCs, but anyone can use the trick.
As an alternative to the above steps, IntoWindows.com has made available a handy Office 2010 Trial Extender Tool that does the same thing with the click of a button. You can download the tool here.
An year ago, when the PC industry was retreating in the face of a rampant financial tsunami, Microsoft wrote a bit of history, albeit for all the wrong reasons. It registered its maiden year-on-year revenue decline back then. But now that an economic recovery is well underway, Microsoft is riding a wave of its own – the Windows 7 wave. The company posted its third-quarter results on Thursday.
During the quarter ended Mar. 31, 2010, its earnings reached $4.01 billion after rising 35% as compared to the the previous year. Revenue also registered an increase of 6% and reached $14.50 billion. The strong showing can safely be attributed to Windows 7, which is “by far the fastest-selling operating system in history.”
“Windows 7 continues to be a growth engine, but we also saw strong growth in other areas like Bing search, Xbox LIVE and our emerging cloud services,” said Microsoft CFO Peter Klein. “Our record third-quarter revenue along with continued rigor on cost management resulted in exceptional EPS growth.”
It is important to note that Microsoft has chosen to defer $305 million of revenue from its Office productivity suite. This is due to the fact that these Office sales are covered by the ongoing Microsoft Office 2010 Technology Guarantee program.
Good news for business owners chomping on the bit for Microsoft Office 2010. Come May 12, Microsoft will begin selling the full version of its upcoming productivity suite to businesses, about a month before the general public will be able to get their hands on a copy.
"For businesses, we will launch the 2010 set of products, including Office 2010, SharePoint 2010, Visio 2010, and Project 2010 worldwide on May 12," Jefon Fark, senior marketing manager for Microsoft Office, wrote in a blog post. "For consumers, Office 2010 will be available online and on retail shelves this June. Until then, you can get the Office 2010 beta."
All of the above mentioned products are on schedule to be RTM (released to manufacturing) in April, eWeek reports. And for those participating in Microsoft's Office 2010 Technology Guarantee, the blog outlines eligibility requirements, which entails purchasing and activating either Office 2007, or a new PC with Office 2007, between March 5 and September 30; either have or create a Windows Live ID; and redeem the actual guarantee right here.