Microsoft is looking forward to strong sales of Office 2010 when the productivity suite ships later this year, based on what the company called "record interest" in the beta version of the product. Users have downloaded more than 2 million trial copies of the software in just seven weeks, according to Microsoft Office general manager Rachel Bondi.
"The Office 2010 beta is generating record interest and use, surpassing the previous Office 2007 beta download rate," said Bondi, in a blog post Tuesday. "It's a rate of 40,000 downloads per day," said Bondi.
Microsoft Office sales could use a boost. Sales of the product to consumers plunged 34% in the most recent quarter, while enterprise sales dropped 4% as some companies opted for less expensive offerings from Google and other competitors.
Microsoft on Tuesday also released a detailed pricing plan for Office 2010, which includes popular applications like Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
For 2010, Office will be available in four editions.
The standard Office Home and Student version is priced at $149 for packaged software, or $119 for those who wish to download the software and activate it with a key card.
For home office workers and small businesses, Office Home and Business is available for $279 boxed, or $199 for a key card. Office 2010 Professional, which includes a number of tools geared toward enterprise environments, is $499 boxed, or $349 for a key card.
College students and professors can get a price break by purchasing Office Professional Academic. It's priced at $99 and will be available at campus bookstores and other selected retailers.
All versions of Office 2010 will include access to Office Web, which is a pared down, Internet-based version of the software. Microsoft also plans to make Office Web available for free to the public through its Windows Live portal. The software, however, lacks all the bells and whistles of the pricey desktop versions.
Microsoft last month confirmed that Office 2010 will be available sometime in the middle of this year, but did not provide a more specific timeframe.
Among Office 2010's enhancements over previous editions are beefed up video and image processing tools that let users edit photos and videos from within their Office documents. New collaboration capabilities, meanwhile, will allow multiple users to access and edit a single document over the Internet.
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