One thing we must deal with before all else is the various versions of Office that go on sale today. As ever they are numerous, but only three of them are available to buy from retailers. These three are: Home & Student, Home & Business and Professional. All are sold in boxed retail versions that include three licenses, and Product Key Code (PKC) versions. These versions, which presume the presence of a trial version of Office already being installed, allow the purchase of a single-use license with no further download. However, like an OEM license, they’re locked to a single PC as well.
Suggested retail pricing (inc. VAT) for these versions and what each package contains are shown below:
While the PKC pricing looks quite reasonable, particularly for the Home & Student version, the single-license, single PC restriction is contentious. It’s hard to argue with selling a single license, but restricting it to one PC is bound to be a nasty surprise if – having purchased it on one new system – a user decides they’d rather use it on another.
Happily, the likes of Amazon are already discounting the retail versions to at or around the suggested PKC prices. PKC licenses are being discounted in a similar manner, but we’d recommend shopping around first and opting for a retail version if you can. Whether this discounting is a short-term strategy, as it was with the Windows 7 launch, remains to be seen, but it’s unlikely prices will go any lower in the near future so if you’re planning to buy, strike while the iron is hot.
For the purposes of our review we’re going to focus on the two packages most likely to be used by consumers, sole-traders and small businesses: Home & Student and Home & Business. This means we won’t be covering Publisher (the desktop publishing application) or Access (the database application) that are featured in the Office 2010 Professional, and other applications that can be found in the Volume only versions of Office, such as InfoPath, Communicator or SharePoint Workspace.
We’ll start our review with the application pretty much everyone will use: Word 2010.