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Office and SharePoint 2010 Released to Business Customers

Microsoft today released its Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010 products to enterprise customers as part of a global launch event.

The general public will have to wait a bit longer, however. Retail versions of Office 2010, as well as Office Web Apps, will be available on June 15.

Microsoft's launch event has been anticipated for several months and there were no surprises at the largely ceremonial event. Nevertheless, the launch marks a key milestone for Microsoft and its flagship enterprise products, which are updated every three years. For customers, the new products entail upgrade considerations. Waiting in the wings will be Microsoft's large ecosystem of developers and partners, who may gain new business opportunities.

Stephen Elop, president of Microsoft's Business Division, took the wraps off Office and SharePoint 2010 at NBC Studios in New York on the set of "Saturday Night Live." Elop described the new releases as "epic," pointing to productivity enhancements and social media support for both products.

"Our customers are responding to a changing face of the workforce reflecting the arrival of the millennial generation -- people who communicate in different ways from us -- and figuring out how to blend those people into the workforce," Elop said.

"The need [is] for IT to supply applications that facilitate effective collaboration of individuals, teams and organizations, regardless of their location," he added. "These phenomena have significant implications for all of us."

Office 2010 has a bevy of new features, including a more robust Outlook client with a social network connector. Microsoft also improved Excel with a built-in PowerPivot charting capability that enables "self-service" business intelligence by workers, potentially reducing IT service requests. Readers can find in-depth details on the new productivity features in the articles, "A New Decade of Office" and "Office 2010: Productivity Play."

SharePoint 2010 includes improved search, extended content management and social networking features. More details can be found in this "Chomping at the SharePoint Bit" article.

It remains to be seen how quickly Microsoft's customer base will upgrade, given the new product features.

"A lot of companies have made a lot of investments in 2007, so I think they are going to try to get some mileage out them," said Gartner analyst Mark Gilbert, in an interview at the launch event. Also, he pointed out that many organizations may not have the infrastructures needed to run SharePoint 2010.

"The initial feedback is that SharePoint 2010 is vastly improved but there are a lot of people who don't have those 64-bit farms in place. It's not just the server hardware, [but] the memory," Gilbert said.

Customers may wait to see what the 2010 version of SharePoint online looks like. It's expected to be a vast improvement over the current hosted version. That release is due out later this year, Microsoft said.

Other organizations opting for premises-installed products may wait until the first service packs are released, which some consider to be a traditional approach to new software releases.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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