Office 2010 available, but so are alternatives

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The latest version of Microsoft’s flagship software, Office 2010, went on sale this week for consumers.

The Home and Student package costs $149, or $119 for a download. It contains Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. The last program, which isn’t as well known, is designed to help collect notes in one spot.

Microsoft also launched free, more limited, Web applications of the four programs last week.

The Web apps are stripped-down versions of the programs and may be better used as supplements to the full Office suite. In some cases, however, the free apps can be valuable as standalone products.

For example, the Web apps could be helpful for those working with people who have the full Office suite. The apps let you open documents and modify text and spreadsheets. The bulk of the formatting still needs to be done with the desktop application.

If you have both the suite of products and the apps, you can shuttle documents between the desktop and Web versions. So if you have Office on a work computer, you can now make changes from your home computer, even if it’s a Macintosh.

How To Get It

If you have a Windows Live or Hotmail account, you will notice a link to Office at the top of the screen after you log in. Otherwise, sign up for an account.