Office 2010 Retail Pricing Unveiled

Microsoft released Office 2010 U.S. retail pricing details on Tuesday, although the product isn't yet available for purchase.

The productivity suite will be available in four boxed editions, but Microsoft also will sell Office 2010 through sales of new PCs that come preloaded with a stripped-down Starter Edition. Starter Edition users will be able to "upgrade" to full product editions by buying product key cards from various retail outlets.

Microsoft earlier announced that Office 2010 will be available for sale in June of this year.

The four editions of Office 2010 include Office Home and Student ($149), Office Home and Business ($279), Office Professional ($499) and Office Professional Academic ($99).

Office Professional and Office Professional Academic will contain all of the baseline applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote) plus Outlook, Publisher and Access. The other two editions just include the baseline apps, with Outlook added in the Office Home and Business Edition.

It appears to be less expensive to buy Office 2010 with a new PC. For instance, Office Professional cost $349 via product key card, or $150 less than the boxed product price. The pricing is described at a Microsoft Office blog here.

One caveat to buying Office 2010 with the product key card is that users can only install one instance of the productivity suite. The boxed editions offer more options. For instance, the product can be installed on two PCs with boxed editions of Office Home and Business, Office Professional and Office Professional Academic. That number rises to three PCs with the Office Home and Student boxed edition.

Those thinking that they can buy a particular edition and then upgrade later would be wrong. A Microsoft spokesperson explained by e-mail that Microsoft is "not offering upgrade pricing for Office 2010." Microsoft also did not describe the "technical guarantee" upgrade details of moving from older Office editions to Office 2010, but it plans to do so at a later date, according to the spokesperson.

Office Professional Academic represents the most low-cost option, but it's marketed toward students and educators in K-12 schools and colleges and universities. Users have to qualify to get it by providing "a valid e-mail address or school ID," the spokesperson explained.

Microsoft publicly released betas of a number of its 2010 products in November, including an Office 2010 beta, which is currently available for download. Office 2010 notably contains a new addition to the suite called "Office Web Apps," which are browser-based versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint that better facilitate document sharing.

Microsoft currently dominates the business space with its Office products, but it may face future competition from Sun's and StarOffice, as well as IBM's Lotus Symphony, which are free to consumer users. Google also offers a free hosted productivity suite to consumers called Google Apps. Another provider of Office-like applications is Zoho, which delivers its apps via software as a service.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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