Software

Microsoft Office 2010 released to the retail market but does it matter?

Microsoft has released its Office 2010 Suite to the retail market, but, in this day and age of free office applications, does it really matter?

I received an email this morning announcing the availability of the retail versions of Microsoft Office 2010. So, while many IT professionals have been working with Office 2010 for some time now, this is the first chance many small business and/or consumers have had to get their hands on the productivity suite.

The email offered a link to a suite comparison chart which details the differences between the retail packages, including what modules come with each and how much each version costs. The one thing I noticed right away was the suggested retail price for the versions. In general, the prices seem on the expensive side, especially when there are so many competitive alternative choices these days.

Heck, even Microsoft offers the cloud-computing based Office Live.

So, this begs the question: Does the retail release of Microsoft Office 2010 really matter? With so many less expensive alternatives, will small businesses, students, and consumers buy Office 2010? Does the availability of viable alternatives make Office 2010 a luxury item that can be forgone?

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About

Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

71 comments
pauldesmondwhite
pauldesmondwhite

I like MS Office and have used it happily for over 15 years. However in my circumstances as a pensioner home user there are strong disincentives to paying for the upgrade, particularly as feature-wise 2010 offers me nothing of great importance from my current 2000. The problem is that lack of support for earlier versions will force me to upgrade at some point.

macka43
macka43

I have just purchased SOFTMAKER Office Suite (textmaker, planmaker, etc. [no database]) made in Germany which looks like the old microvision apps. It has menus (which I WANT) and enough features to make it very useful. It's faster & LESS complicated than MS Office - does MY bidding WITHOUT interference & has after sales service. This company isn't trying to control & manipulate me, it just gives me what I want.

PKA
PKA

I've been using it for some time and I can't imagine a business or anyone needing all the features on it. Another overpriced overkill from the giant.

tflannery
tflannery

I do agree that the cost of a retail open license of Professional at $499 is a tad high. On the other hand we almost never buy open licenses and opt for OEM at a typical $349. Then after our 3 year replacement schedule, walk away from it by which point a newer version is out. More expensive then 2007? I guess a little bit, but not a huge increase.

marvin.novello
marvin.novello

Yes, I know it, I use it, I like it, I trust it, I'm keeping Office XP.

jfuller05
jfuller05

I guess the retail release of 2010 matters to peopel that don't have any Microsoft office software on their computer and don't want to use open-source software. If that is their case, yeah, I can understand a person buying Office 2010 for those two reasons. In my case,I'm using 2007 at home, I like that version, I don't see any good reason for upgrading and the same story at work. We all just upgraded to 2007 from 2003. We also all enjoy using 2007 and there is just no logical reason to upgrade to 2010 yet. If am correct, there aren't many new functions in 2010; the change is mostly cosmetic.

lkarnis
lkarnis

I wrote over 900 pages of courseware and labs on OpenOffice from OpenOffice.org (free office suite). No quirks, no crashes, etc. just easy to use office functionality. Now, it's not as fast as MS Office, and not as slick, but it's more stable and I love the price.

erimaster
erimaster

Earlier, new versions were big improvements. But like cars, just because there are a few more features, does not mean you need to buy a new one each time a new model comes out.

jdaughtry
jdaughtry

Like it or not, MS Office sets the standard for a suite. Unless you only send documents as open text or PDF then in the business world you have to use something that is MS-compliant. Open Office doesn't do it - too many problems with tabs, indents, bullets and tables. I pay for and use SoftMaker. Half the price, so far no problems.

Jaqui
Jaqui

I only use Free Software / Open Source Software. if MS did what they have consistently done in the past, and changed the format for the documents, then it will just have me responding to idiots sending in the newest format with: use the International Standards Organization's ONLY approved format for office documents: ODF, MS formats can't be opened unless money WASTED on MS Office.

public
public

I was all excited about the 64 bit version of Office, but it won't install on my version of Windows. In fact the demo of 2010 won't install on XP64 at all. Slowly but surely the day approaches when I tell my boss, "Linux or I quit!" I love visual basic, but the overhead of maintaining the Microsoft environment is no longer worth it. Windows 7 is a sad joke. I just wish the industry would face the music honestly. I keep reading about the "success" of Win 7. Phuuleeese! It is slow as molasses in January. XP64 is the best OS Microsoft will ever make. Not because it is perfect, not at all, but because apparently they have somehow become a nearly completely disfunctional organization. Will they turn it around? Highly unlikely.

andriuscerniauskas
andriuscerniauskas

I have tried lots off opensource tools/suites/clouds and so on... but nothing is working correctly on excel macros... for the word it is possible to use "free tools" but for excel macros not. If anyone have tested and know solution for "big macros" instead MS Excel please share the info...

wwgorman
wwgorman

I agree with santeewelding above as there wasn't a button to vote that fit my intentions. I for one think that cloud computing can be slow and insecure. Also, there is no compelling reason to upgrade to Office 2010 and the learning curve of "The Ribbon." It really doesn't have any new functions of interest over Office 2003 which has its own menus (not those of a third party program) so I'm not upgrading.

santeewelding
santeewelding

As a member of the world population, as [b]gbentley[/b] put it, you are too much with it, Mark -- taken with the cloud of your own kind. You leave no vote-button for me to push. While by no means a congregant of your cognoscenti, I must -- as most must, nowadays -- know a thing or three about computer communication, information, and technology. I can't escape it. More, I wager my kind outnumber by far your kind by one, big, huge margin. So, where's my button?

marcw
marcw

I recently upgraded to SoftMaker Office 2010 from the previous version. My discovery of SM Office occurred after much frustration with trying to coax the Open Office Org suite to handle some fairly complex tasks that required compatibility with MS Office formats. It's fast, portable, small footprint, highly compatible, inexpensive and its component applications appear superior in operation to those in both OOO and MS Office 2007 (which I use on a regular basis at work).

dhays
dhays

Office is practically all I have ever used. Back in pre Windows days we had WP 5, but not since. For personal use I have been able to go to a Ms Launch event and pick up Office for free, but this year there were none in Oklahoma, so I didn't get that option. My biggest complaint is that to get the Access database, you have to buy the professional edition. Who needs Powerpoint at home? Picture slideshows? There are other programs to do that as well. WP is still around and it is a little cheaper, but again one has to get the professional edition to get a database (Paradox). Lotus Smart Suite is another $20 less that WP, but I don't think it has as many applications as WP, WP appears to offer more than Ws. I probably will not bew spending upwards of $400 for a program I don't really need. We ahve O2003 and O2007 at home, why upgrade for those prices? I have not tried Open Office or Google Docs, or anyone else's version.

Thack
Thack

I agree - most of the new functionality in Word 2010 is of no interest to me (better collaboration features, etc). However, the UI feels significantly more polished than 2007. Basically, it's like 2007 but done right. And the title bar behaves properly with the Windows 7 mouse actions, at last. So I was happy to pay the money, just to use a tool which feels "finished", rather than the "half finished" of Word 2007.

davidhbrown
davidhbrown

...and that was on a Mac. (I switched to Windows shortly after Mac OS X.) I don't exactly play nice with it, either; I use a lot of equations and, embedded content from other office apps like Visio, and use Zotero for my references.

Jaqui
Jaqui

I do not use the formats. oops, Microsoft themselves decided their office suite isn't important, THEY DO NOT MAKE IT FOR ALL OPERATING SYSTEMS. if they don't support my os, then obviously they are admitting the suite isn't worth using. ;)

davishipps
davishipps

In the time since I first started using Office in 1995, over the course of 8 versions of the product, MS have changed the format for the documents exactly once, so to say that "they have consistently done [this] in the past" is a bit of a stretch. There are many reasons to use a good full-bodied open source alternative (I like OpenOffice.org 3 on my Ubuntu machine, NeoOffice on my Mac), but fear of format-change shouldn't be one of them.

david.gent
david.gent

It gives Microsoft an excuse for not correcting the bugs in prior releases

Kevin@Quealy.net
Kevin@Quealy.net

If I was your boss and you gave me that ultimatium, I'd say "Don't let the door hit you on the way out". Besides the other headaches that would come with switching over an entire infrastructure to Linux there's also the supply and demand of IT skills. You might be an expert on Linux but if you leave how difficult will it be to find someone else with your Linux skills and how much would I have to pay them? Finding a Microsoft administrator is much easier and with more competition comes a better price for the company. Moving to Linux would just hamstring a company looking for support.

Thack
Thack

"Windows 7 is a sad joke. I just wish the industry would face the music honestly. I keep reading about the "success" of Win 7. Phuuleeese! It is slow as molasses in January. " What kind of hardware are you running it on? I'm running W7 on a clunky old 2.4GHz dual core machine, and it isn't slow at all. I mean, it's very snappy. Also, it has been utterly stable and reliable. I think you're set against W7 regardless of what it's really like. "Prejudice", they call it. And it's disappointing in a tech professional.

AndyTulenko
AndyTulenko

With the economy in the current condition it does not make any sense to purchase Office. Open Office is free and works just as well. Ok, there are a couple of formatting differences but so what. Remember when Word Perfect and Word were battling it out? The market will choose the winner and I'm betting on FREE.

Thack
Thack

I presume you mean "haven't had...". Actually, although I'm quite a fan of Office, I was able to crash Word 2007 quite easily by moving the mouse pointer rapidly back and forth over the styles box (which gives you the preview function). For some reason, after a second or so, Word would bomb out. I did wonder if it could have been a graphics driver problem. In any case, it stopped happening (presumably after an update) and Word 2010 doesn't do it. But other than that I, too, have found Word to be completely stable, and I thrash the hell out of it most days.

Jaqui
Jaqui

even MS doesn't use it though. an MS format that MS ignores. makes it a valid option. .. riiiight. MS office can support their binary format and add support for ODF, the format openxml was meant to supplant and failed. or better yet, MS office can default to only using ODF.

Jaqui
Jaqui

so the little fact that office 95 cannot open office 97 documents office 97 can't open office 2k office 2k can't open office 2k3 .. means the format has remained the same? sorry, that little fact proves you wrong.

dev
dev

I was one of the few that actually migrated to Vista, then to Windows 7, although I waited until SP1 came out. But I really like the newer interface and when I *have* to work in XP, it suddenly feels old and outdated (which it is now). My main desktop machine dual-boots between Windows 7 and XP (both are 64-bit versions) and I must say that Win7 is actually quicker. XP has periodic and mysterious freezes where everything just pauses while the HD churns. Windows 7 hardly ever does that. Also, I need fewer 3rd-party utilities because there's so much more built in to Win7. But anyway, back to Office... I was about ready to ditch MS Office and try Open Office again after several years. I've been hearing good things about the open source version and, even though I tried, I don't like the fixed ribbon of Office 2007. But with all the positive things I've read today about the new 2010 version, I'll give it a whirl.

davidhbrown
davidhbrown

I'm liking Windows 7 a lot, too, but "2.4GHz dual-core" is pretty typical of what you'll find in Staples or Newegg in midrange computers (especially laptops). That's just one spec, but I wouldn't say that strikes me as particularly "clunky old."

Bob N.
Bob N.

I avoided Vista like the plague for my clients, but once I got into the Windows 7 Beta I saw what Microsoft was doing to make it better. I am now a Windows 7 supporter because of the many things it does so much better than the XP Pro version my clients are currently running. Unless you've taken the time to really experience Windows 7, you can't appreciate how much it has improved over its Vista predecessor. It leaves XP Pro in the dust.

wwgorman
wwgorman

I did not find a button that asked if I was staying with an earlier version of Office. Perhaps a series of buttons---Office 2000, Office 2003, Office 2007. I'm back to Office 2003 after a 2007 upgrade. I think it would have been appropriate to ask if you are not upgrading is it because of "The Ribbon." In my case yes! I have Office 2007 and the third party menu (menu lite I call it) program but still hate Office 2007. Further more, I did not find any new compelling capabilities in Office 2007 like an enhanced Histogram capability. I assume Office 2010 is more of the same. And, by the way, after I installed Office 2007 I wanted to open an archive to do some data entry on an existing file. I COULD NOT FIND THE OPEN FILE ICON! I had to buy the third party menu to be able to open the file. The Open File icon was hidden and you had to click on an inartfully placed small triangle to expose it.

doaks
doaks

How about: "Yes, our volume licensing on Office requires it."

Glenn from Iowa
Glenn from Iowa

"I need to use Office, but I don't need to upgrade." The way I interpret your article, you're asking if the release of Office 2010 matters because there are alternatives. Open Source and "cloud" office apps are alternatives, but another key reason why it wouldn't matter is the sentiment that a previous version of Office works fine for me, so I don't need/want to upgrade. I personally thought splitting out the two Yes... answers was unnecessary and confusing (and the ...I trust it statement might be going a bit far), but I think providing another reason for No, not gonna upgrade, might have reflected a popular sentiment. BTW, when I first read the article, I thought it was troll bait, and almost didn't read the comments, expecting the usual "M$ is evil, now Open Source will rule!" sentiments. But so far, I've been impressed with the reasoned comments posted.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

I guessed that some members wanted another option - I am hoping, "no, not updating" is what they were looking for.

jdaughtry
jdaughtry

When tabs, indents, bullets and tables get mangled and you email it to a client you end up losing jobs. Free is not always the most economical choice.

john3347
john3347

You just contradicted yourself in succeeding sentences. Now does it work just as well, or are there a couple of formatting differences? My experience has been that Office, like Windows, enjoys such a high market share that it is simply the standard. If one is going to be and appear professional in the marketplace, Office is a necessity, like it or not. I, 'til today, often send someone a document written from Open Office and get a reply, "I could not open your document."

david
david

The ability of programes to read each others files is a problem. even if you use .doc or .xls files only Open Office and Microsoft Office are often not compatible and can easily mangle each others files. In an environment where the vast majority of persons are still using Microsoft Office this is a real issue. I really like OpenOffice.org, it deals with tables in documents, way better than Word, but find compatibility a continually nagging problem.

dogknees
dogknees

The comment made perfect sense to me.

jfuller05
jfuller05

that he couldn't vote because his opinion on Office 2010 in your poll wasn't an option. So, he couldn't vote.

john3347
john3347

And Office 2003 cannot open Office 2007 documents without a separate add-on.

Thack
Thack

Sorry - I should have been clearer: I've had my processor and motherboard for a few years. It's an Intel Core 2 6600, which is much less punchy than modern processors running at the same speed. And still it is fine. Every part of W7 works without perceptible delay. The only things that ever show noticeable delays are the apps themselves, not the OS. Examples include OCRing large documents (in ABBYY FineReader); applying complex filters to large bitmaps in Paint Shop Pro; recoding video; stuff like that.

SirWizard
SirWizard

If Office 2010 was available with a classic (non-crippled) UI, I'd probably pay the cash to switch from Office 2003. With the Ribbon only, no way! So the missing voting option is: * I'm not switching from an earlier version of Office solely because of the Ribbon interface.

Glenn from Iowa
Glenn from Iowa

Oh, sure, update it while I'm writing my reply. :-) Guess that'll teach me not to be so long winded. ;-)

brian.minerly1
brian.minerly1

I've gotten that plenty of times from people who are using Office 2003 and receive a doc from someone using 2007. My employer does not owe Microsoft a per-seat fee to continue to compose and process documents. We're going OpenOffice everywhere we can (which, in our experience, has been 80-90% of all installations).

Bob N.
Bob N.

it's too bad that he didn't put it as clearly and succinctly as you just did. Instead he chose to rail on in a manner which did nothing to promote a productive discussion among peers. Whatever happened to civil discourse in our society? It's fine by me if someone wants to disagree with someone else, but must everything turn into a massive confrontation? I have more respect for someone who can provide a well-reasoned objection than someone who rants emotionally when they disagree with someone.