This week Microsoft officially launches Office 2010. While the final release version has been available for download by customers with software assurance for a few weeks, the “official” launch means the marketing machine will really crank up as Microsoft tries to create excitement for the 14th version of the world’s most popular productivity tools suite. Given there were more than 7 million downloads of the beta version, it’s evident there is interest in the latest version, and early user feedback has been positive.
But are businesses ready to upgrade to Office 2010? What about at home? A lot of firms recently went through an upgrade to Office 2007 – 80% of firms surveyed by Forrester last month say they support Office 2007. For many information workers the pain of adjusting to the Office 2007 Fluent UI is still fresh. And a lot has changed in the market since 2007 when Google was just launching Docs & Spreadsheets. So what do you need to know about Office 2010 to inform your upgrade decision? To start:
Okay, so I'm a sucker for nostalgia. But being on the same stage as Gilda Radner and John Belushi and John Candy and Tina Fey was a thrill. And being in the same studio where Elvis Costello and the Attractions stopped "Less Than Zero" after a few bars and jumped into "Radio Radio" in defiance of NBC's wishes brought a rebellious, empowered smile to my face.
NBC's Studio 8H, home of Saturday Night Live, is where Microsoft launched SharePoint 2010 and Office 2010 yesterday. It was a short, punchy, customer-filled event. These products are the latest in the "Wave 14" product set, a ginormous (as my 9-year old says) overhaul of the Office product line. And they're beauts. Here's my (admittedly enthusiastic) analysis of what Microsoft has accomplished with this product.
The lion awakens and roars.
Microsoft's Office business has taken a battering in the press as journalists chase stories about the important innovations from nimble startup competitors, open source alternatives, and Web-based productivity tools. But let's face it. Microsoft doesn't have 500,000,000 people using its tools for no reason. And while three years is a long time to wait for a product release (especially in this era of instant innovation via the Internet), Microsoft has re-confirmed its position as the most important driver of business productivity on the planet. This launch will crush the dreams of a 100 entrepreneurs and force another 1,000 to rethink their companies. That's okay. It's what happens when Microsoft turns a niche product for a geeky few into a global feature that anybody can use. As an economy, we need it.