Microsoft has launched the latest version of its Office software suite with new features allowing for easier collaboration and multimedia editing in documents.
According to the company, its Irish offices played a significant role in the product’s development, sharing responsibility with Microsoft Seattle for bug fixes in the months leading up to its launch.
In Dublin, 230 people worked on the release over the past few months, also developing different language versions and features, like the Setup process through which users must go to install the software.
“We’ve got a development team here and they’ve developed what are called ‘core features’, which will appear in the US version of the software,” says Derek McCann of the Microsoft European Development Centre. “To be honest, it’s quite exciting and to have some of it done in Ireland is great.”
Microsoft Office 2010 comes three years after the software’s last version and will go on sale on June 15h. However businesses buying in bulk have been able to purchase it since May 12th.
While it is visually similar to its predecessor, there have been a number of changes made to improve much-used functions such as cut and paste.
Users can now also edit videos and pictures from within Word and PowerPoint, rather than having to do this with separate software.
One of the more notable developments is the availability of Office Web Apps, an online version of Office. These free applications are expected to launch alongside the retail version and will allow users to store and share their documents online, as well as collaborate with others.
“What’s best about Web Apps is that the formating is maintained across the platforms, so the document online will look exactly the same as it did on your desktop,” says Richard Moore, business manager information worker at Microsoft Ireland.
“There is no fidelity loss either, which we think is absolutely paramount if you want to show people your work.”
The Web Apps are a clear reaction to Google Docs, the free web-based software suite that now competes with Microsoft Office. However Moore says its online software does not have all the functionality of its desktop equivalent and would be best suited to making final changes in a document rather than creating one from scratch.
“We think people will want to use an office client and use this as a companion,” he adds. “Rather than force people to do everything in the cloud, we are giving people the option.”
Documents that are stored and shared online will likely be accessed from Microsoft’s cloud computing data centre in Clondalkin, Dublin, which was opened by the company last year.
The article was published originally in The Irish Times on 28th May 2010.