Microsoft Office 2010: to be available as a native suite OR as an online suite

Microsoft laid out its plans for the next major Office release.  Office 2010 (what an oh-so-clever title) will be available in many flavors, including a Windows/Mac client version and a, GASP, web version. Yes, a web version.  There will be a free version of the web suite and a paid version. 

The free online version will consist of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and, my favorite, a OneNote version.  Finally, a OneNote that will work on any computer.  Pretty danged cool.  The suite will be available via the Windows Live portal and launch directly in the browser.

This latest offering is Microsoft’s attempt to blunt competitive wares from Google, Lotus and other suites like Open Office.  Perhaps, though, Microsoft’s biggest threat is Google.  Not only in the form of Google’s online offerings, but also the recently announced ‘Google OS’.  Though, I don’t think that offering will be that big of a threat. 

While the online stuff certainly will be pretty powerful for browser based apps, they will not be the full featured, high performance apps that currently make up Office.  The web version of PowerPoint, for example, will lack the higher performance video capabilities.  Likewise, the online version will have some features that are not in the desktop versions, such as the ability to embed tags in documents and then post them on blogs.

For businesses who purchase volume subscriptions to Office, they will also get access to the online versions for no additional cost.

There will be a closed beta starting today and a public beta will be made available later this year.

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