As Google does with Google Docs, Microsoft will make free Web versions of Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote available next year.
Stephen Elop, the president of Microsoft’s Business division, is dropping that and some other details about Office 2010 in a keynote speech at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partners Conference in New Orleans this morning.
Office 2010, the next version of Microsoft’s productivity software, will launch in the first half of 2010. Starting today it will be available for technical preview by invitation only to partners at the conference, and long-time enterprise customers will make the invite list. SharePoint 2010, Visio 2010 and Project 2010 are also going to be available as part of a technical preview.
The company will also start offering Microsoft-hosted versions of Office software, as it does now with applications such as Microsoft Outlook. Business customers will also be able to buy Web-enabled versions so workers can access Office applications online as they would with Microsoft Outlook Web Exchange.
Janice Kapner, senior director of communications of Microsoft’s Business division, said the new version of Office will have the “ability to deliver the best productivity experience across the PC, mobile phone and the browser.”
In other news, the “ribbon,” the hate-it-or-love-it graphical user interface that made its debut in Word 2007, will become a part of the rest of the Office software line.