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2010 Begins Today: Microsoft Releases Office and SharePoint

By the time you read this, the confetti will have fallen, the executives will have made their speeches and Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010 will be available to enterprises. Check back with RCPmag.com for updates throughout the day and during the rest of this week. Our man Jeff Schwartz is on the scene at the New York launch party.

Although SharePoint is likely to be the big moneymaker for partners, it's Office that's getting all the attention. And most of that attention is centered on Office Web Apps, the long-awaited, fully cloud-based, free version of Office that launched today with the flagship Office product.

Office 2010 is Microsoft's answer to Google Apps, and it's a pretty good answer, given its integration with the client version of Office. Google Docs integrates with…well, nothing, really. It's not supposed to integrate with anything; the whole point is for it to live in the cloud and not much of anywhere else. OK, so users can create and edit Microsoft Word documents inside Google Docs, but the transition from Google to Microsoft isn't always perfect -- as your editor, a user of both Docs and Office, knows first-hand.

We're guessing that Microsoft's pure integration between its client and online suites will be smoother than Google's bridge to Office is. Of course, that hasn't stopped Google from touting its own online software this week -- or from taking a few shots at Microsoft's new wares.

Hey, that's fair enough. Competition is healthy. And Google has managed to draw lots of hype for its cloud-based suite. But thus far, that's about all that Google has really produced -- hype. For all the press coverage (including a fair amount here) of Google stealing high-profile accounts away from Office, the Microsoft suite still absolutely owns its competitor in the enterprise market.

And the free, integrated, likely pretty useful Office Web Apps should only help hold or even increase Office's market share -- providing Web Apps works as advertised. Even if it doesn't, Google Docs really isn't that great, functionality-wise. Familiarity with this type of software breeds comfort rather than contempt. Microsoft has that going for it, too. The only real risk here, of course, is that companies and consumers will start using Office Web Apps for free and stop paying for the main Office products. We're not sure, though, that anybody's ready to put quite that much faith in the cloud yet.

The empire has struck back in the Office-suite game -- and it really hadn't suffered much damage to begin with. As we've said here before, never, ever, ever count Microsoft out in any market or category of technology. And definitely count Microsoft in as the present and very likely future leader of the productivity-suite race.

What impresses you most about Office 2010? SharePoint 2010? What disappoints you? Do you think that Google is a real threat to Microsoft Office? Share your thoughts at lpender@rcpmag.com.  

Posted by Lee Pender on May 12, 2010 at 11:56 AM