New Packaging, Pricing on the Way for Office 2010

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With actual delivery still some six months away, Microsoft has announced packaging and pricing for Office 2010.

The announcement came in a post on Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) Office 2010 Engineering blog on Tuesday.

"Office 2010 will be offered in four versions, to make it easier to choose a version of Office that's best for you -- Office Home and Business, Office Professional, Office Home and Student, and Office Professional Academic," the post said.

That compares with five packages in the current roundup of Office 2007 SKUs (stock-keeping units). Office 2007's SKUs, including Home and Student, Standard, Small Business, Professional, and Ultimate are similar to Office 2010's, but not identical.

In the new lineup for 2010, for instance, there is no Ultimate edition, although there is a new Academic Professional SKU.

Pricing is similar but not identical between the two releases either.

For instance, 2007 Home and Student costs $149.95, the same as 2010 Home and Student -- but a new option that debuted last fall, called a "product key card," can reduce that to $119. Office Home and Student 2010 will be available in a "family pack" that enables users to install three copies of the software in a single household, the company said.

The key card will work with PCs that come pre-loaded with Office 2010. Users who want to purchase using a key card get a discount since there's no physical media, other than the PC's hard disk. Users can upgrade to any of the versions using the key card.

There are a few differences in the old and new SKUs, though.

Instead of Office 2007's Small Business edition, which costs $449.95, Microsoft will offer Office Home and Business 2010 at $279 (boxed) or $199 with a key card. Office Professional 2010 will cost $499 boxed or $349 with a key card. The boxed price for Professional 2010 is identical as the price for Office 2007 Professional ($499.95).

Office 2007 Ultimate edition, which has no similar SKU in 2010, costs $679.95.

Meanwhile, Academic Professional, a new SKU in Office 2010, will only cost $99, Microsoft's blog post said.

All of the packages except Home and Student 2010 include the Outlook e-mail client. Additionally, all of the 2010 editions include Microsoft's Web Apps, browser-based versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.

The other packages will be differentiated by which other Microsoft Office apps are included, such as Publisher 2010 and Access 2010.

One retail analyst said the prices do not seem radically different.

"The prices seem in line with what they are now," Stephen Baker, vice president for industry analysis at NPD Group, told InternetNews.com.

"The key card is the biggest change," Baker added.

Microsoft began beta testing Office 2010 in mid-November at its Professional Developers Conference 2009 in Los Angeles.

Despite the continuing popularity of three-year-old Office 2007, testers went wild for the 2010 beta and, in less than three weeks, it had garnered more than a million downloads.

A month later, the beta has now reached two million downloads, a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement e-mailed to InternetNews.com.

Article courtesy of InternetNews.com.

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