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Microsoft to offer free online Office 2010 applications

Office Web applications to be available for free online as Microsoft challenges Google Docs

Microsoft has announced that it will make a lightweight version of its upcoming Office 2010 suite available for free online.

The move, which is being seen as a direct challenge to Google’s free online Docs suite, will offer online versions of Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote under the banner of Office Web.

The announcement, made at Microsoft’s global partner conference, is intended to “provide access to documents from virtually anywhere and preserve the look and feel of a document regardless of device” according to a company statement.

Microsoft says that the Office Web applications will be available for free to users of the Windows Live service and to Office volume licensing customers, plus as a subscription as part of the Microsoft Online Services.

The company has announced that Microsoft Office 2010, along with Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010, Microsoft Visio 2010 and Microsoft Project 2010 have all entered the technical preview engineering stage, with invitation-only testing about to start.

Chris Capossela, senior vice president of the Microsoft Business Division at Microsoft said: “Office 2010 is the premier productivity solution across PCs, mobile phones and browsers. From broadcast and video editing in PowerPoint, new data visualization capabilities in Excel, and co-authoring in Word, we are delivering technology to help people work smarter and faster from virtually any location using any device.”

Last week Google announced the launch of a new operating system for netbooks, under the Chrome brand.
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