By Harry McCracken | Tuesday, June 15, 2010 at 1:03 pm
The last bit of Microsoft’s Office 2010 rollout is now in place: The suite upgrade has gone on sale at retail stores, and is now being shipped in a pre-installed version on new PCs. (Even if the Windows machine you buy doesn’t include a paid-for copy of Office 2010, chances are pretty high that it includes a trial version which can be unlocked, or used indefinitely in a dumbed-down, ad-supported Starter mode.
For people who care about office-suite upgrades at all, I think Office 2010 is a good bet overall–especially the $150 Home and Student edition, which can be installed on three machines simultaneously, providing impressive bang for the buck as long as you don’t need Outlook.
But I seem to be way less impressed with the new Office Web Apps than the average tech pundit (here’s Walt Mossberg’s cautiously positive take). I get that Microsoft sees them as a complement to traditional Office rather than a substitute, and appreciate the much-better-than-average file compatibility and rendering fidelity. But too many very, very basic features are absent: For instance, I don’t quite understand how anyone could release a presentation app in 2010 that doesn’t let you draw a square or circle.
I attended an Office launch event last night, and Microsoft executives said they plan to beef up the Office Web Apps on an ongoing basis; I’ll keep tabs on further developments. And maybe the company’s contention that the current versions provide most of the features that most real people want is closer to being right than I think it is–if you try out the Web Apps (or Office 2010 itself) I’d love to hear your thoughts.