Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) on Tuesday confirmed that the next version of its Office productivity suite will be released in the middle of next year.
Office 2010, and related products, will be available in June, Microsoft said, in response to numerous Internet reports about a possible ship date for the software.
To keep pace with the growing number of free, or low-cost, desktop productivity tools available online, Microsoft for the first time plans to include a Web-based version of Office with the 2010 release.
Office Web, as the offering is called, will be available to consumers at no charge.
The free, online products will include the Office word processing application, the Excel spreadsheet, PowerPoint presentation software, and OneNote message pad, Microsoft said. They'll be available directly through Microsoft's Windows Live portal and launch directly within a user's browser.
Businesses that purchase volume subscriptions to Office also will receive access to the Office Web apps at no additional charge.
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