Topic: Office 2010 launched to businesses

Microsoft has released Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010 to volume-licensing enterprise customers, ahead of the software's retail launch in June.

In addition, the 2010 updates to Visio and Project are now available to businesses, the software maker said in its announcement on Wednesday.

The new features of Office 2010 include easier embedding of video and audio in PowerPoint presentations, the embedding of relevancy links in OneNote notes, a new menu structure in Word and new formatting options in Excel. Documents can also be saved directly into SharePoint or online sharing services such as Skydrive.

People will want to upgrade from previous versions of Microsoft's suite because the new version provides "an even better and more productive experience across the PC, browser and mobile phone", said Jeff Teper, the head of Microsoft's Office Business Platform group.

"There's just a whole host of everything from the new presentation features in PowerPoint to the Outlook Social Connector that brings your email and social connections together," Teper told ZDNet UK on Wednesday. "SharePoint brings a whole host of new capabilities for business intelligence, content management and social networking that really light up best with Office 2010."

About 8.5 million people and organisations have downloaded the beta version of Office 2010, according to Microsoft.

Teper noted that a new version of Office applications will be coming out for Windows Phone 7 handsets. "Probably the most exciting new feature, there is a version of SharePoint Workspace that runs on those phones, so you can synchronise your documents to that phone," he said.

Asked about Google's recent suggestion to Office customers that they should upgrade to a hybrid of Google Apps and Office tools, Teper dismissed the pitch.

"Google tried to tell people six months ago that they didn't need Office at all, and they backed away because that failed," Teper said. "What we've heard from customers is that they want a consistent experience on the PC and the web. They value their security and privacy. Google have backpedalled from something that wasn't working to a hodgepodge."

One of the key new features of Office 2010 is its coordination with a new suite of free Office web applications. ZDNet UK asked Teper whether he thought Office web apps might one day supersede their desktop client counterparts, but he said this was unlikely to happen.

"I think [web apps will] be more important, but I don't think they'll supersede," he said. "We've offered Outlook [as a web app] for 10 years. Customers have had their choice and most customers use a combination [of online and offline clients]. People still get excited about the full version of Outlook, mostly because it helps them run their email more effectively."

Teper took another swipe at Google on the issue of connectivity being necessary for the functioning of an application. "They're trying to tell people they don't need offline cached access, which is just not credible," he said. "People like high-performance local access to their email."

By David Meyer, ZDNet UK