In addition to several new features like the Social Media pane in Outlook and the use of the fantastic new “Ribbon” on all programs, Office 2010 brought us two completely new versions which are completely free!
Office 2010 Starter Edition – FREE:
Starter includes only Word and Excel and they have some advanced features removed which I doubt 99.99% of users would notice. It also has a small panel on the bottom right which contains advertising. Thus far the advertising has been very light and non-obnoxios. You can easily ignore it or you may find it interesting:
Starter can not be purchased (obviously) or downloaded by consumers. It is only available through hardware manufactures called OEM’s. OEM’s include Dell, HP and Toshiba but also include your local mom & pop computer store.
Office Starter was built to replace the crappy MS Works program (cost about $50) which has been around since 1995. Thank God, Works is now officially dead!
Office Starter is pretty damn good and down right amazing for free. Check it out on Video:
Office Web Apps – FREE:
Simply go to skydrive.live.com and sign in. In case you didn’t already know, “Live” is Microsofts site for all consumer oriented services on the web (like hotmail, bing, storage, mesh…) If you don’t already have a “Live” account, it will only take about 2 minutes to create and will not be evasive. Then you will get a FREE web version of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and One Note. You can create and edit files on the 25GB of FREE space Microsoft gives you.
Theoretically you are supposed to own a copy of Office 2010 to use this service but there is no verification and I doubt there ever will be.
About the only practical downside to Office WebApps is that you have to be connected to the internet to get them. Word, Excel, PowerPoint and One Note WebApps have seriously reduced functionality but most home users will not notice.
Office WebApps were built to compete against Google Apps and other tools which might screw up the formatting of your documents when you open them (later) with Word or Excel on your PC. Google Apps, Star Office and others have a common problem of corrupting your formatting which can be infuriating. Office WebApps from Microsoft will not hose your formatting!
Office WebApps were also built to fulfill Microsofts drive to allow you to access and edit your files anywhere and anytime. On your Phone (Phone 7), your PC (Office 2010) and anywhere you have internet access (Office WebApps).
Check it out on Video: