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Microsoft uses Office 2010 to launch Office 2010

Virtual launch for Office 2010 will put the product itself to work, tapping latest version of SharePoint to translate Stephen Elop's keynote for a global audience.

By using SharePoint 2010, Microsoft said it was able to make its virtual launch less expensive, more social, and to translate it into more languages, such as the Hebrew version above. Microsoft

When Microsoft makes its business pitch for Office 2010 on Wednesday, it will be putting its money where its mouth is.

Only a few hundred people will be in New York to hear Microsoft Business Division president Stephen Elop speak at a live event. Far more will take part via an online "virtual launch," which will be held simultaneously in 60 markets, in 38 different regional variations comprising 26 languages. And that effort is being run using a key component of the new Office--SharePoint 2010.

Microsoft considered using an existing virtual launch tool, or off-the-shelf software from a third party, but decided last year it could get more for its money using the latest version of SharePoint, then still in beta. The new SharePoint meant the site could be made more social and be able to be translated into more languages.

"If we went with (SharePoint) 2007 we probably would have cut corners a little bit," said Carol Matthews, a senior marketing manager in Microsoft's information worker team. Instead, she just had to convince boss Chris Capossela to bet the launch on a product that was still in testing. Microsoft does have an HTML-based backup for Wednesday's launch, but Matthews said that has more to do with the unreliability of the Web than of SharePoint.

The move to make more of the launch virtual is part of a cost saving measure. Last time around, Microsoft had events in cities across the U.S. and events in overseas markets as well. "Those were very expensive," Matthews said.

Microsoft isn't the first to bet on the new SharePoint in a production environment, though. The U.S. Olympic Committee used SharePoint 2010 to power its site for reporters at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, B.C. Office 2010 was only finalized last month.

Using beta software for the Office launch, though, meant that Microsoft didn't start actual coding on the launch platform until December, upgrading to a later version of SharePoint in January. The core site was developed in March to allow the various international localizations.

"It was a rapid build," Matthews said.