Office 14 = Office 2010, so what?

Office Watch readers have already said they don’t care.

Various outlets are hot with the ‘news’ that the next version of Office will be called ‘Office 2010’.  Hardly surprising since the upcoming Microsoft Office will be released in 2010.  It wasn’t going to be called ‘Office 7’ (to match Windows 7) and any other name would have confused people even more.

We asked Office Watch readers in the back in February and most of you voted for apathy:



  • 51% said “It doesn’t matter. They can call it “Tommy the Sea Lion’ for all I care.”
  • 13% liked the sound of “Microsoft Office, we promise we’ve tried harder this time
  • of the more serious responses, most thought that Office 2010 was the likely name.

There was a lot more interest in early screen shots of the next Office, though the shots don’t tell you much. 

We’ll have to wait to see what Microsoft has for us both in the software and browser based versions of the next Office.

What’s in Microsoft Office and how well it works is much more important that the name on the box.


When?

Microsoft is saying that Office 2010 will be released to the public in, wait for it, 2010.  They aren’t making the past mistake of making a release date promise only to miss that date and get pilloried (wrongly in our view) for being ‘late’.

This time Microsoft is only saying Office 2010 will be unleashed in the first half of 2010 – the company should be able to meet such a wide target.

There will be a ‘technical beta’ in the last quarter of this year.  In the past ‘technical’ betas have been more like widespread marketing pushes with all the features locked in place and only really large bugs fixed between that test version and the final product.  An example of how long problems are allowed to remain after Microsoft Office is released can be seen in the major changes to Outlook’s PST/OST data management in the upcoming Office 2007 Service Pack 2.


Who will buy it?

A better question than when Office 2010 comes out is who will buy it?  It has been harder and harder for Microsoft to convince people and organizations to ‘upgrade’ Office and that was before the economic downturn.

Associating Office 2010 with Windows 7 might help (Office 2007 is wrongly seen as ‘linked’ to the despised Windows Vista).  The ribbon interface continues to baffle and annoy people, rightly or wrongly and there’ll be no stepping back from the ribbon in Office 2010.

The online version of Office (web based versions of Word, Excel, Powerpoint and OneNote) if integrated well with desktop Office and sold as a combination (rather than demanding more money for ‘full’ online access) might entice people and small companies.