Microsoft Office 2010 Starter Replaces Works, Adds Advertising

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News Posted: Wed, Jun 16 2010 12:31 PM
Microsoft launched the latest version of Office today, with a new series of features and capabilities, including an entirely new basic flavor (dubbed Office 2010 Starter Edition) that replaces the long-reviled Microsoft Works. The chief advantage to the switch, from a consumer's perspective, is that it eliminates the hassle of dealing with Works' antiquated interface or separate file types. Unfortunately, there are also some disadvantages to the new version.

As its name implies, Office Starter Edition is an extremely limited version of the standard Office suite. Only two applications—Word and Excel—are included in the bundle and neither are full versions. The following features are unavailable in Office 2010 Starter:
  • Customizable ribbon and customizable quick access toolbar buttons
  • SmartArt
  • Math and equation editing
  • Full screen reading view
  • Reference features (Citation, Bibliography etc)
  • Tracked changes and comments
  • Compare and combining documents
  • Document permissions and protection
  • Automatic table of contents
  • Macros
  • Addins
  • Pivot tables and pivot charts in Excel Starter
  • Any additional custom commands not exposed in the ribbon
Most of these limitations shouldn't affect home users, but a few could prove problematic depending on your needs. Microsoft isn't willing to risk the chance that even this stripped version of Office could leech sales from the real thing; Office 2010 Starter will only be available to OEMs. The other, potentially more interesting angle, is that while Microsoft has gone to the trouble to develop this product, it doesn't really want consumers to think about it very much. Market research has apparently shown that consumers tend to confuse Office Starter with a full office suite. Once they figured out they hadn't, said buyers were then unhappy (even though Word and Excel presumably met virtually all of their needs to begin with).



In theory, Office Starter is advertising-supported, but Microsoft is apparently concerned enough about the status of its cash cow that it doesn't want consumers thinking they can actually get a free version of Office in exchange for not clicking on some ads. The company also isn't above using Office Starter to shill for some of its other products; the software package is available for $2 to OEMs if they agree to preload the Bing Bar and Windows Live Essentials, or $5 if they won't. 
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News:

... Market research has apparently shown that consumers tend to confuse Office Starter with a full office suite....

It should read most consumers tend to confuse windows and Microsoft office... I get this all the time....

Customer "So does this have windows installed on it?"

Me "Yes"

Customer "So it has word?"

Me "No thats office"

Customer "I dont understand...."

 

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Joel H replied on Wed, Jun 16 2010 9:07 PM

If you get that all the time, I feel very sorry for you. And I'm amazed that you haven't killed anyone yet.

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about 4 or 5 times a week, and I am amazed as well.... 

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realneil replied on Thu, Jun 17 2010 8:00 AM

Advertising supported MS-Office Lite isn't worth it when Open Office is free and does it all.

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Open office is great for home users, as long as they are not working with highly complex excel spreadsheets. There are some minor compatibility issues there (along with a few other places). I have Open Office and Office Professional 2007 (isn't military discount pricing great? Cost me $20) installed on my home machine.

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AKwyn replied on Thu, Jun 17 2010 1:19 PM

I didn't like Microsoft Works that much but this is a much horrid replacement, I thought if they offered advertisement in it then it would actually be free. I guess not since it's only avaliable to OEM's for $2 to $5 dollars. I don't even get why they'd need a starter version.

At least what the people should do is uninstall Office Starter and install OpenOffice, that offers much more functionality then Starter will ever have.

 

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3vi1 replied on Thu, Jun 17 2010 7:23 PM

@InfinityzeN:

My wife took a college "computer systems" class. Which basically turned out to be the instructor reading from a Microsoft-created lesson book, asking the students to demonstrate that they knew where all the menu options were (and not that they understood any underlying concepts) in MS Office apps.

OpenOffice worked so well that my wife was able to do all the assignments (finding the equivalent menu item on her own and saving in MSOffice formats) that she got a perfect score (and she uses computers as little as possible).

So, I highly doubt that the average person does anything with spreadsheets that won't work fine in OpenOffice. I suggest everyone try OpenOffice first. When it fails to meet your needs, file a bug/wishlist report (so that OO can get better) and go to MS Office if you must.

I do agree with you on one thing:  MS Office is probably worth $20. Unfortunately, those of us not defending the country (you're appreciated!) or being actively locked-in as students get charged $500+ to put the *BASIC* version on a couple of PCs... while we can get unlimited OpenOffice full licenses for free.

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realneil replied on Thu, Jun 17 2010 8:31 PM

$20.00 Office is a great deal, you guys and gals in the armed forces deserve all of the perks you get, and much more.

Fact is that If I wanted to I could install MS Office 2007 for free. Many of the people I know have offered it to me. There are way too many free versions of very functional software available today to keep handing over cash when it's not necessary to do. Anti-Virus software being a prime example.

I have a few Office 2003 versions that are licensed and they still work fine , but an ADVERTISING supported, crippled Office program is not worth it, no way, no how.

(FREE) Open Office is the better choice under those circumstances. It really works well folks.

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Joel H replied on Fri, Jun 18 2010 8:39 PM

I used OpenOffice for quite awhile. I agree that its' an absolutely serviceable program. I switched back to Office (after using OO for a year) because I flatly got tired of OO's speed or lack thereof. Once a document was opened, OO was fine, but when it came to rapid-fire opening a number of documents or launching the program after previously closing it, OO couldn't hold a candle to Office.

If my only options were paying whatever ridiculous price MS thinks Office is worth or OO, I'd take OO every time.

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3vi1 replied on Sat, Jun 19 2010 4:49 PM

>> but when it came to rapid-fire opening a number of documents or launching the program after previously closing it, OO couldn't hold a candle to Office.

You should have used it on Linux, where it still would have been cached in RAM. :D Comes up pretty much instantly on every invocation.

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