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Microsoft launches “technical preview” of forthcoming Office 2010
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MicrosoftGiving the latest indication that its Office 2010 is on schedule for an early next year release, Microsoft Monday launched its "technical preview" for a selected group of technology-savvy testers.

Alongside the scheduled launch of the paid, desktop offline version of Office 2010, Microsoft also intends launching a free Web version of Office - called the Office Web Apps.

The launch of the preview of its forthcoming productivity tool reflects Microsoft's intentions of suitably updating the highly profitable desktop software package, with a view to add more ways in which users can work concurrently on documents; organize their e-mail; as well as edit videos and photos.

Though not many details about the features of its Office Web Apps have been disclosed by the software maker, the word going around has it that users would most likely require a Windows Live account to access Office Web Apps.

Acknowledging that the expansion of Office would benefit not only Microsoft but the entire industry, analyst Sheri McLeish, at Forrester Research, said: "If we didn't have these free alternatives from Google and Zoho, surely Microsoft would not be doing this. But all the competition in the productivity tools space benefits businesses and consumers."

Pointing to the leading edge Microsoft will have over competitors, McLeish added: "Microsoft is providing more options to businesses in the ways which Web-based apps can be deployed."

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