Microsoft is going trick-or-treating this Halloween, but there won't be any spooky houses or smashed pumpkins.
Instead, all of those who beta tested Office 2010 before it was released, and who continued using the beta after the commercial release of the application suite last spring, take note.
On Sunday, Oct. 31, if users still running the beta copy who haven't replaced it with a paid version will see their Office 2010 license expire, Microsoft said this week.
"With so many folks out there using the Office 2010 beta, this is our gentle reminder that the beta is set to expire on Halloween," Microsoft spokesperson Michael Oldenburg said in a post to the Office Blogon Monday.
After Oct. 31, the beta will cease to function and users will have to buy a commercial copy or go back to an earlier version of Office. It's unknown how many of the people who downloaded the beta some 9 million times are still running the beta.
Microsoft had warned testers along the way that the free beta trial would run out on Halloween 2010.
"As the instructions and the licensing agreement first explained when you downloaded the Office 2010 beta, you'll have to uninstall the beta software from your computer before you can use the released version of Office 2010," Oldenburg added.
Office 2010 began shipping to volume customersin mid-May, and to consumers in mid-June.
A check at Amazon.com found Office 2010 Home and Business listed at $279.99 but discounted to $214, while Office 2010 Professionalwas listed at $499.99, but marked down to $408.99.
For those who just aren't ready to make a commitment, Microsoft also has 60-day trial versions of the commercial versions that are available for download. However, they expire after 60 days.
Microsoft seems to be taking a less jarring approach to its Office 2010 trials than it did with the betas of Windows 7. Beta copies of Windows 7 expiredon Aug. 1, 2009, but not before they first began randomly shutting down every two hours for a month prior to expiration -- until they finally shut down for good.