Microsoft's Office 2010 Hits Global Retail Stage

Consumers now have a multitude of purchasing options: They can buy Office 2010 at their local Best Buy store or one of more than 35,000 other retailers worldwide; they can order it from online retailers like Amazon and; or they can just buy it online directly from Microsoft.

Microsoft launched Office 2010 to businesses last month and says adoption is going well, but many companies will get the software automatically through volume licensing agreements and won't have to decide whether to upgrade. Consumers, on the other hand, will offer a more accurate picture of whether the improvements Microsoft has made in its latest update will translate to market success.

So far, Microsoft has plenty of data points to make its case. In the seven months that have passed since Microsoft launched the public beta of Office 2010, more than nine million people have downloaded the software. And according to recent figures from comScore Tech Metrix, Office software is installed on more than one billion PCs worldwide.

Microsoft is using beta tester feedback in its new $80 million "Make It Great" marketing campaign for Office 2010, which highlights features specifically designed for home, school and work settings. While not all features will appeal to all users, Microsoft seems to think that casting a wide net is the best way to maintain its Office franchise.

Sponsored post

"Following the great response to the Office 2010 beta and the success of Windows 7, we predict this will be the biggest consumer release of Office, ever," said Stephen Elop, president of the Microsoft Business Division, in a statement.

With Office 2010 now completely out the door, the war of words between Google and Microsoft will likely kick up a notch. Google has been particularly intent on bashing the real-time collaboration features in Microsoft's Office Web Apps, the lightweight, cloud based versions of Word, Excel, Powerpoint and OneNote that are widely seen as a bid to slow the momentum of Google Apps.

Cost is another issue Google often cites: Office Business 2010 costs $199 and Office Professional runs $349 to $499, but Google Apps Enterprise edition costs $50 per user per month.

Google Apps doesn't offer as wide a range of features, and migrating away from Office is a usability challenge many businesses might not be ready for. But in an economy that's still wobbly, Google's cost message could resonate with some companies. Now we get to see if the improvements in Office 2010 are enough to keep Google Apps at bay.