Office's iron grip on the business world, though strong, is not likely to last forever, and Microsoft is starting to follow through on its "software plus services" vow by letting customers trade upfront payments for monthly fees, most recently by offering Exchange and Sharepoint software as a Web service for a monthly fee.
Slideshow: Microsoft Office 2010 Highlights
Microsoft is also counting on a more Web-based manifestation of Office to keep from looking like a corporate dinosaur next to fast and loose Web apps from Google and Zoho, as well as to protect itself from the shift from PCs to more portable devices including smartphones and netbooks.
In an unprecedented move, Microsoft will offer afree, albeit limited, version of Office for the Web where users can access documents via a Web browser. It is scheduled to release the same time as the full, paid version of Office 2010.
Unified Communications in Office 2010
Office 2010 will have real-time communications within a document that allows workers to see if colleagues working on a project are available online.
The paid version -- pricing has not yet been announced -- has features that go deeper into the collaboration realm. But with the combination of a free, light and Web-based version along with the paid, heavy and desktop-based edition, Microsoft believes it can reinvent the way work gets done in the enterprise.