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Microsoft sets Office 2010 pricing

Software maker offers two sets of prices, one for those buying a full boxed copy and a lower one for those just buying a product key code.

Microsoft has announced pricing for Office 2010, with the biggest change being the fact that buyers can pay less by forgoing the full boxed copy in favor of a card with only a product key code.

Office 2010, which is now in public beta testing and due in final form later this year, will come in four retail versions--Home and Student, Home and Business, Professional, and an academic version of Office Professional. Of note, the product key cards are good for only one PC, while the boxed copies are good for installation on two PCs, with the exception of Home and Student, which is licensed for use on up to three machines.

Office Professional, which includes Word 2010, Excel 2010, PowerPoint 2010, OneNote 2010, Outlook 2010, Publisher 2010, Access 2010, premium technical support, and the browser-based Office Web Apps, is priced at $499 for the full boxed copy or $349 for the product key card. The academic version of Office Professional for students and educators will sell for $99 and will be available at campus bookstores and through certain retailers.

Office Home and Student is priced at $149 for the boxed version and $119 for the product key card and includes Word 2010, Excel 2010, PowerPoint 2010, OneNote 2010, and the Office Web Apps. It is available in a Family Pack, allowing use on three PCs in one home.

The new home option, Office Home and Business, which adds Outlook to the mix and is licensed for business use, is offered at $279 for the boxed form or $199 for the product key card.

Microsoft also noted that it has now reached more than 2 million downloads of the beta version of Office 2010.

"To get a better appreciation for that number, it's a rate of more than 40,000 downloads per day," Office General Manager Rachel Bondi said Tuesday in a blog posting. "That's approximately twice the number of people who run the Boston Marathon each year, or the entire population of Olympia, WA, or Annapolis, MD, downloading the Office 2010 beta every day!"