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Microsoft Office first desktop app to hit Windows 8 store

Company's own suite has been given the honor as the first desktop program, or non-Metro app, to grace the Windows 8 Store.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Dominated by Metro apps, the Windows Store has landed its first desktop program.

Office 2010 is now available through the online store, making good on Microsoft's promise that it would offer both desktop and Metro apps for Windows 8 users. But there is a key difference between the two.

Users can download both the free and paid Metro apps directly from the store. A simple Install button downloads and then installs the app in the background. An alert flashes on the screen once the app is fully installed.

The listings for desktop software serve more as pointers to external Web sites where you can purchase them. The store page for Microsoft Office provides a description and details about the suite. But instead of a download button, the store page displays a "Go to developer's website" link. That link opens Internet Explorer, taking you to a Microsoft Web page where you can buy different editions of Office 2010.

There is no financial incentive either to using the Windows Store to buy Office 2010. The various editions of suite cost the same as well, ranging from $119 to $499.

Still, the inclusion of desktop software in the Metro-based Windows store is a handy and helpful touch. Office is a logical choice as the first candidate since it is one of Microsoft's bread-and-butter products. But I hope to see the store expand to offer a full complement of desktop programs.

I'd like to see not just commercial and paid applications but a wide variety of shareware and freeware utilities devoted to Windows users -- in other words, something like Apple's Mac app store. Of course, it's likely to take Microsoft time to fully ramp up the store. But a Windows Store with a full array of products and utilities would be of tremendous value to users. And beyond kicking in its own revenue, the store could help Microsoft drive adoption of Windows 8.

Microsoft already outlined certain plans for the store late last year.

The company said it would provide free apps and paid ones ranging in price from $1.49 to $999.99. Developers will be able to offer users both free and paid versions of the same app and even create trial versions that expire after a certain period of time.

Those of you who download the Windows 8 Release Preview will find Office 2010 in the Windows Store by searching for Microsoft Office or clicking on the link for the Productivity category.