Microsoft has officially confirmed that Office 2010 will be available as a free upgrade for some users. The download offer will be available to people buying Office 2007 between now and a few months after the new system’s release.
The offer had previously been speculated upon but was made official by Microsoft’s Chief Financial Officer Peter Klein at a tech conference this week. Klein didn’t give detailed dates other than the deal beginning sometime this month. The prior reports had pegged the availability dates as March 5 to the end of September.
Under the deal, buyers of Office 2007 will get the closest equivalent version of Office 2010: Home and Student 2007 gets Home and Student 2010, Standard 2007 gets Home and Business 2010 and both Small Business and Professional 2007 get Professional 2010.
Eligible customers can either download the upgrade edition without charge or get it on DVD by paying a shipping and handling fee.
The deal is reminiscent of similar offers for Vista buyers last summer, though in that case it was computer manufacturers which handled the upgrades. With that deal the motivation was to avoid people delaying purchases of new PCs. With this offer, Microsoft may be trying to avoid Office sales drying up during the year because people know a new edition is forthcoming. It’s also possible the firm wants to target IT departments which work to annual budgets and may be in a better position to spend on software around April than later in the year.
Microsoft has also announced Office 2010 pricing for the UK, with each edition available in boxed edition or as a product key (for pre-installed but locked editions on new PCs). Professional will cost £430 in boxed form and £300 as a product key, Home and Business will cost £240/£190 and Home and Student £110/190. Those costs are something in the region of 10 percent higher than a straight US-UK conversion, which isn’t too bad by software standards.