Office 2010 Launches, Free Office Web Apps Coming To The Cloud

Simple software launches don't often grace the front page here at Hot Hardware, but Office is the 800lb. gorilla that no one can ignore. Yet. Google is working tirelessly to replace the need for standalone desktop Office products with Google Documents, an online suite of similar products that can be used on any machine connected to the Internet. It's a shift toward cloud-based computing, and Microsoft's obviously not ignoring that bandwagon.

This week, the company launched their latest version of Office: Office 2010. Early reviews have found that this shouldn't be high on your upgrade list if you're a simple home user, but for enterprises who need to create files that are more graphically intense (or need Excel files larger than 2GB), there's reason to buy. What's most exciting on the consumer front, however, isn't the package you'll buy in a store: it's the one that you'll never buy at all.

In a groundbreaking move, Microsoft has decided to make Office Web Apps available without charge, but they won't go live for PC users until June. These are designed to "complement" the real Office suite, offering less functionality but more flexibility. Files are made and saved into the cloud, helping you to edit and send things from any machine, anywhere. It's a bold move by Microsoft, who could very well lose valuable dollars by giving users a cheaper, more basic option. It's clear that not everyone needs the best and brightest: netbooks have exploded because they're "good enough," and we bet that Office Web Apps will be equally "good enough" for most users.

Microsoft has stated that they're serious about getting into the cloud, and this is proof. Now, time to hurry and wait for June to get here in order to try it out...