At the business launch for the Office 2010 family of products on Wednesday, Microsoft executives noted that the Windows Mobile version of the suite, Office Mobile 2010, is available immediately. Additionally, the software giant finally revealed its plans for retail, consumer-oriented versions of Office 2010. As was exclusively revealed here in WinInfo several months ago, Microsoft will deliver these products to the public on June 15, 2010.
"Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010 define the future of productivity," Microsoft Business Division President Stephen Elop said at Wednesday's event. "With the 2010 set of products, organizations will save, innovate, and grow as their people benefit from working across the PC, phone, and browser."
Office 2010 and related products such as Office Web Apps, SharePoint 2010, Visio 2010, and Project 2010 are currently available to business customers that participate in Microsoft's volume licensing programs. Starting yesterday, anyone with a touch-enabled Windows Mobile 6.5 smartphone can download Office Mobile 2010 for free, as long as the device previously had an older version of Office Mobile pre-installed. (It's unclear what the availability is otherwise; a peek at the Windows Marketplace for Mobile doesn't show a version for other types of Windows Mobile devices. Microsoft has said that those with non-touch-enabled Windows Mobile 6.5 devices will receive a less complete experience.)
On Wednesday, Microsoft Senior Vice President Chris Capposela confirmed my earlier report that consumer, retail versions of Office 2010 and the Office Web Apps will ship June 15. He said that the various Office 2010 suites and individual applications would become available in retail boxed copies, online for electronic download, and with new PCs beginning on that day. The Office Web Apps and a "new version of Hotmail" will be rolled out over time to different customers segments, starting June 15, he said. He likened this kind of release to "rolling thunder."
Microsoft expects Office 2010 to be adopted in record numbers, both with businesses and consumers. According to the company, there is huge interest in Windows 7, and many businesses were simply waiting for Office 2010 to ship so that they could deploy both together. "Windows 7 and Office 2010 will be deployed very rapidly together," Capposela noted.
The release of Office 2010 comes amidst a lot of industry hand-wringing over cloud computing alternatives to Microsoft's dominant Office products. But this angst has little bearing on reality: Microsoft's usage share of the office productivity market has remained fixed at a whopping 94 percent for three years running, despite the supposed influence of cloud-based solutions like Google Docs. This is a product line that is used regularly by over 500 million people, and one that generates almost $20 billion in revenues each year for the software giant.
Looked at another way, Google claims that over 25 million customers have signed up for its Google Apps service, which provides Gmail, Google Docs, and other offerings. But the vast majority of these customers utilize the free version of Google Apps. Meanwhile, Microsoft's online services offerings—which provide Microsoft-hosted versions of Exchange, SharePoint, and other products—have already netted over 40 million customers. And Microsoft doesn't offer a free version of these services at all, so they're all paying customers.