Office 2010 nearly ready; upgrade offer launched

Microsoft says it will finalize the code next month, with plans to launch the software for businesses in May. Kicks off program giving free upgrade to Office 2007 buyers.

Ina Fried Former Staff writer, CNET News
During her years at CNET News, Ina Fried changed beats several times, changed genders once, and covered both of the Pirates of Silicon Valley.
Ina Fried

Microsoft said on Friday that it plans to finalize the code for Office 2010 next month and, as expected, it kicked off a program enabling those who buy Office 2007 in the coming months to get a free upgrade to the new version.

In a blog posting, Microsoft said that it will have a business launch for the Office 2010 products on May 12. The company has said it expects the software to be broadly available in June.

As for the technology guarantee program, Microsoft says it will apply to those who buy Office 2007 between now and September 30 and will allow an upgrade to the comparable Office 2010 product.

Though such programs are typical, this one had even less of an element of surprise after a Microsoft employee briefly posted details of the program last month. Microsoft CFO Peter Klein confirmed the program earlier this week, telling financial analysts on Tuesday to expect the company to defer revenue this quarter to next to account for the upgrades.

Although Office 2010 doesn't bring a radically different look or new file formats, as Office 2007 did, it introduces a number of changes, most significantly the addition of companion Office Web apps that work in a browser. Also, for the first time, Office will come in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions.

A beta version of the software has been available since November and Microsoft has also been doing limited testing of a near-final "release candidate" version of the software.