Microsoft Releases Office 2010 To Manufacturing As Testing Ends

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Microsoft has officially released to manufacturing the next generation of its Office product suite, Office 2010, after an extensive round of public beta testing

Microsoft has revealed that its next generation of software applications, namely Office 2010, SharePoint 2010, Visio 2010 and Project 2010 have reached their release-to-manufacturing (RTM) milestone on 15 April.

“RTM is the final engineering milestone of a product release and our engineering team has poured their heart and soul into reaching this milestone,” Takeshi Numoto, corporate vice president of Microsoft Office, wrote in an 15 April posting on the Microsoft Office 2010 Engineering blog. “It is also an appropriate time to re-emphasise our sincere gratitude to the more than 5,000 organisations and partners who have worked with us on rapid deployment and testing of the products.”

Office 2010 has been downloaded by 7.5 million people since its public beta release in November 2009, according to Numoto. That broad beta-testing mimicked Microsoft’s strategy with its Windows 7 rollout, allowing the company to tweak the software platform based on user feedback ahead of the RTM.

The final version will be officially launched to business customers on 12 May, with retail availability in June.

Cloudy Competition

Despite Microsoft’s dominant market position with regard to productivity software such as Office, it faces a growing challenge from cloud-based productivity applications such as Google Apps, which has been adopted by a number of businesses and government agencies.

Google announced on 5 March that it acquired DocVerse, an application that allows groups to collaborate online on Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents, potentially shifting the competition into another gear if Google decides to integrate DocVerse’s technology into Google Apps.

“We recognise that many people are still accustomed to desktop software,” Jonathan Rochelle, group product manager for the Google Apps team, wrote on the Google Enterprise blog on 5 March. “So as we continue to improve Google Docs and Google Sites as rich collaboration tools, we’re also making it easier for people to transition to the cloud and interoperate with desktop applications like Microsoft Office.”

In a bid to counter the rising competition from the cloud, Microsoft is introducing stripped-down, browser-accessible editions of OneNote, Excel, Word and PowerPoint online. Certain features, however, will be restricted to the full, purchasable version of the software.

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