Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Microsoft introduces a free online version of Office

You can now create Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote documents online with Windows Live. Once you sign up for Microsoft's online service, you can access Microsoft's SkyDrive for your new documents. The release of these free online versions of the standard Office software was simultaneous with the release of the Microsoft Office 2010 software. The new Office product promises to be even more complicated and feature driven than any of the previous versions of the programs. The programs included in the Office suite now include:
  • Access
  • Communicator
  • Excel
  • InfoPath
  • Language packs
  • OneNote
  • Outlook
  • PowerPoint
  • Project
  • Publisher
  • SharePoint Workspace
  • Visio
  • Word
There are six different versions of Office and not all of the above programs are available in all versions. The retail price on these products runs from $150 for the student editions to over $500 for the professional and premium packages. Microsoft has a bewildering array of permutations of the products that seem to add qualifiers to the basic nomenclature; for example, "Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010."

Because genealogists are mostly also computer users, it is almost certain that all of us using computers will come in contact with one or more of the Microsoft products. It is also obvious that those of you out there that are still struggling along with Windows 95 on your computer probably are not hot prospects for sales from Microsoft for Office 2010, but it is inevitable that at some point most users will be considering an upgrade.

Is there some advantage to having your documents stored out there in cyberspace? Google seems to think there is. Microsoft's latest product is not an innovation, it is Microsoft playing catchup to Google Docs.

Not mentioned in the news accounts, which focus specifically on the Microsoft/Google rivalry, is the presence of yet addition free online software such as OpenOffice. I use word processing and spreadsheet software all day, almost every day and yet I probably use fewer than 10% of the features available in any of the programs. Even after spending practically all of my adult life glued to a computer, I still find the number of features of a program like Microsoft Word to be overwhelming. For those of us who would rather spend more time doing genealogy and less time trying to figure out how to work a new program, it is unlikely that we will jump at the opportunity to upgrade to yet another feature set.

1 comment:

  1. Have you ever considered SSuite Office as a free alternative to MS Office or even OpenOffice?

    Their software also doesn't need to run on Java or .NET, like MS Office and so many open source office suites, so it makes their software very small, efficient, and easy to use. :)