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Office 2010 FAQ: Pricing, Starter edition and more

Microsoft has announced official UK pricing for Office 2010. There are a tonne of options to choose from, but we've crawled on our bellies through the minefield to answer the all-important questions

Microsoft has announced official UK pricing for Office 2010. The bad news is that -- Microsoft being Microsoft -- there's a hatful of different versions, all at different price points, to twist your melon into complex, painful shapes. The good news, however, is that Crave has crawled on its belly through the minefield of options to answer the most common questions about the new software, and to help you choose the right version.

How many UK versions are there?

Three main retail versions are available to consumers. At the bottom of the ladder is Office Home and Student, closely followed by Office Home and Business. Office Professional 2010 lives at the top of the ladder. A fourth version -- Office Starter -- is only available pre-installed on new PCs.

How do I buy a copy?

Each of the three primary versions is available from retailers as a full boxed copy with a DVD disc and paper manuals. Microsoft is also selling discounted versions of Office 2010 in 'product key card' form. These cards, available only to users buying a new PC, unlock the Office Starter 2010 software that has been pre-loaded by PC manufacturers on to new PCs.

Can I use my copy on more than one PC?

Product key card versions of all Office 2010 editions can be installed on one PC only. Boxed copies of Office Home and Student 2010 allow for non-commercial installation and use on three PCs in the same household. Office Home and Business and Office Professional allow the same primary user to install and use the software on two separate PCs.

When will they be available?

From June 2010.

What's in Office Professional 2010?

Microsoft's flagship Office app is aimed at people who want absolutely everything from their productivity suite. It comes with copies of Word 2010, Excel 2010, PowerPoint 2010, OneNote 2010, Outlook 2010, Publisher 2010, Access 2010, premium technical support and Office Web Apps. The full boxed version retails for a whopping £430, while the product key card version will set you back just £300 -- a £130 saving.

What's in Office Home and Student 2010?

Despite its name, you needn't be a student to buy Home and Student edition -- though it does help if you have a home. It retails for just £110 in full boxed form, or £90 in product key card form, so you should have plenty of money left over for beer and Pot Noodles. For your money, you get Word 2010, Excel 2010, PowerPoint 2010, OneNote 2010 and Office Web Apps. It's fantastic value if you don't fancy paying an extra £130 for Office Home and Business 2010 -- whose only differentiating factor is its inclusion of Outlook 2010.

What's in Office Home and Business 2010?

If the price of Office Professional has left you running to the hills, and you still want a business-oriented productivity suite, Home and Business could be for you. Like Professional, it includes Word 2010, Excel 2010, PowerPoint 2010, OneNote 2010, Outlook 2010 and Office Web apps. The full, boxed version will cost £240, while the product key card version will cost £190 -- a £50 saving.

Are there any upgrade versions?

No, there are no cut-price upgrade options. Your loyalty to Microsoft counts for nothing.

What about Office Starter Edition?

Office 2010 Starter edition is designed to replace Microsoft Works. It contains stripped-down versions of Word 2010 and Excel 2010, lacking advanced features such as track changes. It's also ad-supported, meaning there's an area of the application window dedicated to showing you adverts of Microsoft products -- mainly full versions of Office 2010. If you don't mind this distraction, and all you want to do is type letters to your mum, or calculate your monthly expenses in Excel, then Office 2010 Starter should serve you well.

Which new PCs will come with Office Starter edition?

If Microsoft gets its way -- almost all of them. You'll have to check with individual hardware manufacturer or retailer to make sure it's included, but most reputable companies should bundle a copy.

Want to ask a question?

Leave us your query in the comments below. We'll do our utmost to get you an answer and add it to this guide.