Microsoft Office 2010: At a glance

With Microsoft Office 2010 on the horizon, but no public betas as of yet, information on the new release is scattered across the Internet. Get everything you need to know here.

With Office 2010 on the horizon, but no public betas in sight yet, the Internet is filled with rumors and speculation as to what the new release may hold. In an effort to dispel the gossip, I've aggregated useful information from the Web to give you a clearer picture of what you can expect from Microsoft Office 2010.

Hardware requirements
Microsoft Office 2010 will be the first version of Office available in a 64-bit edition. Previous Office releases would run on a 64-bit Windows operating system, but the code was natively 32-bit. Those still running 32-bit operating systems will be happy to know that Microsoft has not completely abandoned the 32-bit platform. Just as Windows 7 will ship in both 32-bit and 64-bit editions, so too will Office 2010.

Browser-based applications
Microsoft has confirmed that in addition to traditional Office applications, it will release browser-based versions of some of the Office products. These Office Web apps won't be quite as full featured as the full blown Office products, but they will have basic document editing capabilities.

Office Web apps are being introduced as a way of allowing those on non-Windows platforms to have greater access to Office. Microsoft has confirmed that the Office Web apps will run in Safari, Firefox and in Internet Explorer, which means that Linux users will finally have access to Microsoft Office. (I suspect, however, that most Linux users will continue to use non-Microsoft productivity applications.)

In addition, Office Web apps will make it possible for mobile users to run Microsoft Office on various mobile devices. For years, Windows Mobile has included a watered -down version of Word, Excel and PowerPoint, but I expect that the browser-based version of Microsoft Office will include more features than what Windows Mobile users have now.

Security features
There aren't many details available surrounding Office 2010 security, but there are a couple of new security features that are being discussed.

The first of these features is what appears to be a more granular form of Document Rights Management. The screen capture shows that you can restrict document editing at a deeper level. For instance, you can restrict formatting or restrict revising the document's content.

Protected View is another new security feature. It appears as though Office 2010 will be smart enough to know when a document has been opened from a website, and it automatically locks down the document into "Protected View." There is, however, an "Enable Editing" button, which I can only presume releases the lock that Protected View has on the document.

Personally, I don't believe in downloading a bootleg version of Office 2010 because there are too many legal ramifications, not to mention virus possibilities. However, having said that, there are sites on the Web that have posted screen captures from a leaked version. Access one such Microsoft Office 2010 screenshot library at your own discretion.

Brien Posey, MCSE, is a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional for his work with Windows 2000 Server and IIS. He has served as CIO for a nationwide chain of hospitals and was once in charge of IT security for Fort Knox. As a freelance technical writer, he has written for Microsoft, TechTarget, CNET, ZDNet, MSD2D, Relevant Technologies and other technology companies.

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