Today, Microsoft unveiled the first major milestone of its upcoming Office family of products. Dubbed the Office 2010 Technical Preview, this prerelease version of Office includes Office 2010 Professional and Visio 2010. Other Office 2010 products and services—such as SharePoint Server 2010, Project 2010, the Office Web Applications, and Office Mobile 2010—will ship in prerelease form at a later date.

"Office 2010 is the premier productivity solution across PCs, mobile phones, and browsers," says Microsoft Senior Vice President Chris Capossela. "From broadcast and video editing in PowerPoint, to new data-visualization capabilities in Excel and co-authoring in Word, we are delivering technology to help people work smarter and faster from any location using any device."

Microsoft also revealed that it's streamlining the Office 2010 suite from eight editions to five. The company will deliver Office Professional Plus and Office Standard for enterprises, and Office Professional, Office Home and Student, and the new Office Home and Business for consumers and small businesses. That latter offering includes Word, PowerPoint, Excel, OneNote, and Outlook.

Additionally, Microsoft plans to deliver web-based versions of Word, Excel, OneNote, and PowerPoint via the Office Web Applications. This solution will be delivered to customers in three ways: via Windows Live for consumers, as a subscription service through SharePoint Online, and as a benefit to customers who subscribe to the company's Software Assurance volume-licensing program. A public beta of Office Web Applications is expected later this year.

The Office 2010 Technical Preview is being provided to attendees of this week's Microsoft Partner Conference in New Orleans. A public beta release of the software is also expected later this year, Microsoft says.

I've been using the Office 2010 Technical Preview for about a month now. For an exhaustive overview of this software, please visit the SuperSite for Windows.